Club Atlético de Madrid 1-0 FC Barcelona (agg: 2-1)
Koke’s fifth-minute volley ended the visitors’ hopes of a seventh straight semi-final as Atlético reached the last four for the first time in 40 years.by Paul Bryan
Club Atlético de Madrid reached their first European Cup semi-final for 40 years after an early goal from midfielder Koke took the Rojiblancos through at the expense of FC Barcelona.
As if playing to predictions, Atlético began by allowing their opponents to patiently probe. The game’s outlook soon changed dramatically as, with the hosts suddenly bursting forward, the four-time European champions back-tracked. Groans rang out among the home crowd when Adrián López – in for the injured Diego Costa – thumped a shot against the crossbar. The ball eventually reached David Villa on the left, and when his centre was headed back across the goal by Adrián, those moans turned to roars of delight as Koke volleyed in at the far post.
“Win, win and win again,” read the mosaic that greeted the players as they took to the field and the message seemed to have reached its target as Atlético went in search of a second. The alert Koke fed Villa for an effort that beat José Manuel Pinto only to strike the post. The visitors stirred and Lionel Messi found himself free in the area but could only nod Daniel Alves’s header wide.
Barça’s respite was brief, Villa bursting clear of Marc Bartra before smashing against the woodwork once again. Having not missed out on the last four since 2006/07, the Blaugrana responded to Atlético’s energetic display through Neymar’s left-wing trickery, yet the Brazilian’s good work came to nothing when Messi drove his pass wide. Having already scored twice against Atlético this term, Neymar continued to menace, although he was denied after the restart by Thibaut Courtois’s scooped clearance. The Atleti keeper looked on in relief when Xavi Hernández diverted over shortly afterwards.
The drama and tension that filled the air was unrelenting, substitute Diego – Atlético’s marksman at Camp Nou – squirming away from Sergio Busquets to draw a near-post save from Pinto. The visiting custodian then deflected Gabi’s low attempt wide after the Liga leaders had once more broken away. Although Neymar flashed a header wide for Gerardo Martino’s men, it was Atlético who appeared the likelier team, Pinto repelling Cristián Rodríguez in the final seconds – but his side would not be denied.
source by www. eufa.com