Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona: Messi Magic gives Barca Copa del Rey semi-final advantage - 5 things we learned

Two moments of magic from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi swung the balance of a fifth two-legged tie between these two sides in the past four seasons firmly in Barca's favour inside the first-half of the first-leg.

Atletico still have 90 minutes to turn around a 2-1 deficit, but that is praying for a miracle when God is playing for the other side.

Messi was dazzling again. A sensational piledriver that smashed the inside of the post on its way in to give Barca a 2-0 lead just the icing on a display that made him look he was playing a different sport.

Suarez opened the scoring in just as impressive fashion as he charged from the halfway line through the middle of Atletico's defence to inflict the first wound of a damaging night for the hosts.

The old Atletico spirit did at least return for the second-half as they pressed and harried Barca and got their reward when Antoine Griezmann reduced the arrears just before the hour mark.

However, the tie would be dead and buried if Neymar could match the calmness of his strike partners' in front of goal as he ballooned over when handed a gift of a pass by Messi just after the diminutive Argentine had also hit the bar with a free-kick.

1. Suarez Atletico's scourge once more

In the season before Barca signed Luis Suarez, their failure to beat Atletico in six meetings cost them the La Liga title and dumped them out the Champions League.

In the now 10 meetings since, they have only lost once and Suarez has scored seven times in his nine appearances against Los Rojiblancos.

None of them were as good as his opener as he galloped half the length of the pitch solo, leaving international teammate Diego Godin and Stefan Savic trailing in his wake, before prodding inches inside of Miguel Angel Moya's far post for his 22nd goal of the season.

2. Atletico's season hanging by a thread

A 50th and final season at the Vicente Calderon was meant to inspire Atletico to great things with a squad packed full of young talent and having just missed out on both La Liga and Champions League last season.

Instead, their grand goodbye is petering out with a whimper unless they can save their season when the Champions League returns later this month.

Already 10 points behind Real Madrid having played a game more in La Liga, Atletico face a fight just to avoid the embarrassment of baptising a new 67,000 capacity out of town stadium without Champions League football next season.

Unless they can produce a Camp Nou miracle, another chance of a trophy is gone leaving the one they still haven't won in their history.

3. Messi long ranger danger

Of all of Messi's array of talents, power isn't one that automatically springs to mind.

Yet, the Argentine's blast was the eighth goal he has scored this season from outside the box this season - double any other player in Spain.

Atletico have suffered at the hands of Messi more than most. He's scored more at the Calderon than any ground away from the Camp Nou and only Sevilla have conceded more to the five-time World Player of the Year.

4. Griezmann loyalty to be tested

Once again when Atletico needed a goal, Griezmann was there to get it.

Yet, on top of the move to a new stadium, Atletico's collapse throughout the course of the season hints at big problems to come.

Simeone's time at a club is numbered, even if he does stick to his promise and stay for at least one season at the new Wanda Metropolitano.

Griezmann had committed to stay with Simeone until 2018 too, but with Premier League clubs queueing up to pay his 100m euro buyout clause and multiply his wages, the Frenchman's loyalty will be fully tested come the summer.

5. Savic no match for Gimenez

Atletico's success under Diego Simeone has been built on the foundation of a solid defensive partnership led by Godin.

For the vast majority of Atletico's run to the Champions League final last season his experience fused with the youth and pace of Jose Maria Gimenez was the perfect match.

Yet, Simeone blamed Gimenez's indiscipline on nearly costing his side in the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich and has tended to go with Savic this season leading to a far leakier Atletico defence.

Gimenez had only just won his place back in the team when he left the field in tears having torn a thigh muscle at Alaves on Saturday.

Once again with Savic back alongside him, even the usually unflappable Godin looked out of sorts.

Lionel Messi is lifted in celebration by Luis Suarez after scoring their second goal (Photo: REUTERS)

Messi, Suarez score stupendous goals to give Barcelona lead over Atletico Madrid in Copa del Rey semifinal

It was, as they say, a tale of two halves.

In the first act, Barcelona utterly dominated Atletico Madrid and looked like it might run out to a large away victory in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. In the second book, however, Atletico put Barca under sustained pressure and came close to an equalizer several times.

Nonetheless, Barcelona eked out the 2-1 win, courtesy of a 50-yard dribbling run by Luis Suarez and a Lionel Messi cannonball off the post from well out of the box. Antoine Griezmann got the goal for Atletico with a header.

Just six minutes in, Barca stalwart Javier Mascherano tackled a ball into Suarez’s path at the halfway line. The Uruguayan then traversed the entire Atletico half, evading the four defenders who had him surrounded, and beat goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya with a sneaky side-foot poke.

Neymar had a pair of opportunities before the half hour. But the Brazilian remains some way off from his best form. First, he cut inside but put his shot right at Moya. The second time around, he couldn’t connect the final pass when he, Suarez and Messi ran riot through Atletico’s defense.

Messi got what turned out to be the winner in the 33rd minute. Ivan Rakitic got the ball from him and returned it to Messi outside the box. From there, the little Argentine rifled an uncharacteristically long shot off the far post and into the net.

As the second half began, Atletico Madrid gave a quick spasm of danger to indicate that it would no longer be sleepwalking through the game, as fiery manager Diego Simeone gesticulated on the sideline. Jordi Alba made a big block on Fernando Torres to prevent an early goal for Atleti.

And then, just before the hour, a deep free kick headed across by Diego Godin was nodded in by Griezmann with Atletico’s first shot on target of the entire game.

A few minutes later, Griezmann was denied point-blank by backup goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen from a few feet out. And then Yannick Ferreira Carrasco bicycled a shot just over.

Messi almost got a second goal against the run of play in the second half. This time the temporary captain, who has been firing in free kicks left and right this season, sent a set piece soaring to the top corner of Moya’s goal. But the goalie sprawled and got just enough on the ball to push it away, with help from the crossbar.

The second half was largely an Atletico assault on Cillessen’s goal, and with the occasional mistake, he didn’t make his own life any easier. Late on, Torres got another crack but pushed his shot wide.

Barcelona will gladly take the lead home for the second leg next Tuesday. With the La Liga campaign in shambles and seven games separating Los Cules from more Champions League glory, the Copa still represents the best chance to win something this relatively difficult season – by Barca’s standards.


Lionel Messi’s wonder goal in FC Barcelona’s win over Atletico Madrid

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored stunning goals to edge Barcelona towards a fourth consecutive King’s Cup final with a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, although the holders were lucky to survive a late onslaught from the hosts.

Suarez opened the scoring for FC Barcelona with a breath-taking individual goal in the seventh minute, carving Atletico Madrid open with a thrusting run from the halfway line and producing a crisp low finish before Messi smashed in off the post from outside the area in the 33rd.

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Atletico vastly improved in the second half and after Antoine Griezmann’s header reduced the deficit in the 59th minute they laid siege to the Barca area, but the equaliser remained elusive.

The return leg at the Nou Camp takes place next Tuesday although neither Barca forward Neymar nor Atletico captain Gabi will be able to play through suspension after picking up bookings.

“It would be absurd to think you can come to the Calderon and not suffer. We did everything to try and survive their waves of pressure and for now we can enjoy the result,” Barca coach Luis Enrique told reporters.

“You could say we should have been more effective in the second half and finished the tie off, but that’s just theory, the reality is they had a lot more chances than us. There’s things I need to improve but it’s a huge result for us.”

With his side trailing by two goals, Simeone had nothing to lose and made an attacking change at the break, bringing on Fernando Torres for defender Sime Vrsaljko. Roared on by the typically raucous Vicente Calderon crowd, Atletico suddenly looked more determined to get back into the tie.

A clever back-heel by Torres released Gabi from close range but Jordi Alba made a vital block. Barca could not contain Atletico for long, however, and their goal arrived from an old staple of Simeone’s side, a set piece.

Gabi chipped the ball deep into the box for Diego Godin to glance across the box and Griezmann rose to nod Atletico back into the tie.

The France international had a chance to level soon after as Filipe Luis rolled the ball across to him but Jasper Cillessen made himself big and stopped the shot at point-blank range.

The Dutch goalkeeper looked shaky for much of the second half, however, and was fortunate his frailties were not punished by Atletico, as Torres and Gameiro each missed the target after moments of indecision.

“In the second half we were much closer to how we wanted to be,” Atletico coach Simeone said.

“I’m very happy with the image we showed in the second half, with our intensity and attitude. We leave here with the sensation that if we play like that in the second leg we can still go through.”

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