Atletico Madrid 2 Barcelona 3 (Aggregate 2-4)
After the relative calm of the first leg between these two greats of Spanish #Football, the second leg in the Vicente Calderon Stadium was always likely to be a much livelier affair. So it proved on a night of high emotions and plenty of goal action, as Barcelona eventually overcame nine-man Atletico to progress into the next round of the Copa del Rey.
Barcelona had gained a slender one goal advantage from the home leg after Lionel Messi had first missed a penalty but then scored the rebound, placing the onus on last year's La Liga champions in the second leg. They responded immediately with yet another strike from the returning old boy, Fernando Torres, whose loan signing from AC Milan is seeming like a better deal every day for the Madrid side. His goal in the first minute brought the two sides level on aggregate and set the match up perfectly for the entertainment and high drama to follow. It was just like the Torres of old, as he brought a high ball down, bamboozled Javier Mascherano and fired his shot home off the post.
Barca responded swiftly and were back in front on aggregate after 9 minutes through a Neymar goal, after a classy counter-attack by the visitors involving Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar himself.
In a first-half that demonstrated what cup football is all about, the Madrid side re-took the lead on the night when they were awarded a penalty on the half-hour, which Raul Garcia coolly converted. Mascherano's foul on Juanfran looked perhaps a shade outside the box, but the referee decided otherwise.
The Catalan giants were in no mood to lose their grip on the tie and were in front on the night before half-time, as first an own goal by Miranda drew them level at 2-2, and then the Brazilian Neymar struck again four minutes before the break. His close range goal from a Jordi Alba set-up was only half the story though, as Atletico were still disputing Alba's part in what looked like a handball in blocking Antoine Griezmann's effort at the other end moments before.
That left Atletico with a mountain to climb in the second-half, trailing 3-2 in the match and two goals down on aggregate. Away goals provided the challenging proposition of them requiring three unanswered goals in forty-five minutes, to continue their cup interest. For some of the players it was proving too much to take and rather bizarrely they were reduced to ten men before the resumption in play, as Gabi was sent off while going down the tunnel at half-time. The fiery moment seemed to be triggered after Neymar had been seen arguing with some of the home players, as the teams left the pitch.
The ill-discipline displayed by Diego Simeone's men continued in the second-half, as Arda Turan strangely decided to throw his boot at one point as tempers flared. Mario Suarez capped a dismal night for the home fans as he also saw red late on, after being shown a second yellow card following a foul on Messi. In truth, the game and Atletico's anger management had both been long since lost by then, as the key decisions on the night seemed to go against them.
Barcelona will now face either Getafe or Villareal in the semi-finals of the competition. #Celebrities