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Messi's late goal puts Barcelona back on top in Spain

Lionel Messi converted an 81st-minute penalty kick as Barcelona beat Real Sociedad 1-0 and regained the Spanish league lead on Saturday.

Barcelona's hard-fought win at Camp Nou Stadium followed last weekend's loss in the “clásico” against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Madrid now trails Barcelona by two points but can get back on top when it visits struggling Real Betis on Sunday.

It was Barcelona's 22nd straight home win against Sociedad in the league. The Catalan club has not lost points against the Basque Country team at Camp Nou since a 1995 draw.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal from the penalty spot during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Messi calmly converted the penalty with a low shot to the corner for his league-leading 19th goal of the season. The penalty was awarded after video review determined a handball by Sociedad defender Robin Le Normand.

Video review also called off a goal by Barcelona defender Jordi Alba late into second-half stoppage time because substitute Ansu Fati was offside before making a pass to Alba.

Barcelona wasn't dominant but had most of the significant scoring chances with the majority created by Messi.

Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong, right, jumps for the ball with Real Sociedad's Portu during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Forward Martin Braithwaite made his first start since joining from Leganés this month, playing alongside Messi and Antoine Griezmann up front.

Sociedad looked dangerous on counterattacks but couldn't capitalized on its chances.

The Basque club stayed in sixth place, two points behind fourth-place Getafe in the final qualification spot for the Champions League next season.

Real Sociedad's goalkeeper Alex Remiro, left, makes a save against Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Sociedad had won three in a row in the league and last week clinched a spot in the Copa del Rey final for the first time in more than three decades. It will play Basque rival Athletic Bilbao in the April 18 final.

ATLÉTICO HELD

Fifth-place Atlético Madrid remained outside the Champions League spots after a 2-2 draw against third-place Sevilla at home.

Real Sociedad's goalkeeper Alex Remiro, left, makes a save against Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

It was Atlético's last match before traveling to England to try to defend a 1-0 first-leg win against Liverpool in the round of 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Sevilla opened the scoring with a 19th-minute goal by Luuk de Jong, but Atlético rallied with goals from Álvaro Morata in the 32nd and João Félix in the 36th. Sevilla evened the match again in the 43rd with a penalty converted by Lucas Ocampos.

Ocampos' and Morata's goals came after penalty kicks awarded after long delays for video review.

Barcelona's Martin Braithwaite, right, heads the ball past Real Sociedad's Nacho Monreal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Morata hadn't scored in eight consecutive matches. His last league goal was last year at Betis.

Sevilla, unbeaten in four league games, has scored at least a goal in 19 straight league games, its best mark since 1962.

It is the first time Atlético has drawn 12 of its first 27 league games.

Barcelona fans wear face masks in an attempt to protect there self from the coronavirus, prior a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

KUBO SCORES

Japanese forward Takefusa Kubo scored in the 78th as Mallorca defeated Eibar 2-1 for its first away win in the league this season.

Kubo, on loan from Real Madrid, scored with a low shot from outside the area to give Mallorca its first win in 13 away matches.

A Barcelona fan wears a face mask in an attempt to protect there self from the coronavirus uses his mobile prior a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Dani Rodríguez had opened the scoring for the visitors in the 42nd. Eibar's lone goal came from Pedro Bigas in second-half injury time.

Mallorca stayed inside the relegation zone despite the win, while Eibar was two points above the drop zone.

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