Barcelona 2-1 Atlético
Suárez rescues Barcelona after scorer Torres sees red
Barcelona looked like they might suffer more Champions League pain at the hands of Atlético, as they did in 2013/14, but they came back with two Luis Suárez second half goals.
Fernando Torres was the hero and the villain for Atlético Madrid as he netted them a vital away goal before picking up two yellow cards to leave his teammates with a man disadvantage for just under an hour. His goal midway through the first half changed the whole complexion of this tie after the home side’s early dominance, but his early exit meant it was always going to be difficult for Atlético to hold on.
Barcelona began the match as most expected them to, with the majority of possession and the majority of the early chances. Messi hit a couple of early chances wide as he searched for his 500th career goal, while Neymar had a free header in the box and an excellent chance to open the scoring. However, the Brazilian headed over the crossbar to let Atlético off the hook.
When it appeared that a Barcelona goal was a matter of moments away, Griezmann had the first good chance of the evening for the Madrid side. Just as the Camp Nou crowd was recovering its collective breath after his near miss, Torres stunned them as he had done with Chelsea in the 2011/12 Champions League semi-final. Koke poked a little pass past Pique and Torres duly converted.
El Niño was involved in the action again when he made a silly yellow card-earning challenge on Neymar, who was actually going away from goal and posing no immediate threat. Then, in the 35th minute, a Torres foul on Busquets near the half-way line drew another booking to leave Atlético with ten men.
For a while, though, Diego Simeone’s men did hold off Barcelona. They planted all men behind the ball and held the Catalans at bay until the half-time break. The opening 15 minutes of the second period followed a similar pattern; Barcelona set up camp outside the Atlético box but struggled to break the defensive wall down.
Luis Suárez did eventually get Barcelona on the scoreboard when he turned in a Jordi Alba cross-cum-shot just after the hour mark. The equaliser fuelled Barcelona further and a second Suárez goal followed in the 74th minute. The Uruguayan passed out wide to Dani Alves and headed the Brazilian’s cross past Jan Oblak.
Barcelona sought a third goal, but Atlético also looked dangerous on the counter attack in the closing stages. Ultimately, both defences held firm and there is still all to play for in next week’s second leg at the Calderón.
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