CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – QF 1st LEG: Atletico make life difficult for Barcelona

Atletico Madrid have staked their claim for a Champions League semi-final berth after holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

Atletico Madrid have staked their claim for a Champions League semi-final berth after holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

In all-Spanish quarter-final firstleg, Diego Simeone’s side took the ascendency early in the second half through substitute Diego Ribas before fellow Brazilian Neymar responded for the Catalan giants later in the piece.

Atletico ace Diego Costa was under an injury cloud prior to the match when he failed to complete a training session on Monday and it proved costly as he succumbed to a hamstring problem inside the opening half-hour.

However, it proved a blessing in disguise as his replacement Diego Ribas opened the scoring with a speculative 56th-minute angled effort from about 30 yards which gave Jose Pinto no chance as it cannoned into the top corner.

Atleti had done a wonderful job in containing the dangerous Barca attack but you can never keep a good side down for too long as Tata Martino’s men answered in the 71st minute.

Andres Iniesta produced a stunning through ball which invited a positive run from Neymar with the young gun tucking a first-time effort around Thibaut Courtois despite being under pressure from the Atleti defence.

Barcelona upped their game after the leveller and had some great opportunities to win it but Courtois was equal to the task, pulling off stunning saves to deny Iniesta and Lionel Messi to keep his side in it.

Barcelona will now head to the Vicente Calderon next Wednesday to try and oust their La Liga rivals, who will most likely be without leading scorer Diego Costa, on what promises to be a finely balanced second leg.

2013/14 UEFA Champions League – quarter-final first leg

Barcelona (SPN): 1 (Neymar 71’)
Atletico Madrid (SPN): 1 (Diego Ribas 56’)
Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – 79,941

 
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