Atletico vs Barcelona: Lionel Messi inspires Barca to win over title rivals, but Thomas Vermaelen injury woes continue

Messi came off bench to help Barca to a 2-1 win

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The Independent Online

Lionel Messi came off the bench to inspire Barcelona to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Saturday night.

Messi had been left out of the starting line-up for the La Liga meeting after missing a day of training this week for the birth of his second child - but his introduction on the hour made an immediate impression.

Barcelona fell behind to a Fernando Torres opener early in the second half but Neymar's free-kick levelled the score before the Argentinian stepped up to seal victory 13 minutes from time.

However, it wasn't all good news for Barcelona, with defender Thomas Vermaelen's struggles with injury continuing.

The former Arsenal captain picked up a calf problem in the 2-1 victory.

The Belgian international damaged his hamstring at last year's World Cup in Brazil, shortly before he joined Barca from Arsenal.

The 29-year-old eventually needed surgery and did not make his debut until the final weeks of last season.

Barca said on their website that Vermaelen, who had to come off in the 27th minute at the Calderon and was replaced by Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu, had damaged the calf muscle in his left leg.

They did not say how long he might be sidelined but Spanish media reported he would be out for three weeks.

Barca play their Champions League Group E opener at AS Roma on Wednesday.

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