Lionel Messi gives Barcelona advantage in the Copa del Rey against Atletico Madrid
Lionel Messi missed a penalty, but scored the rebound to score the only goal in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final between Barcelona and Atletico. Luis Enrique and Diego Simeone named strong line-ups for this crucial tie at the Camp Nou.
Fernando Torres, who had scored 7 goals in 10 matches, for Atletico against Barcelona led the line for the visitors, while Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez all started for the home side. Atletico came to this stage having beaten Real Madrid, while Barcelona had a rather easier encounter against Elche.
The match saw a familiar feel of Barcelona keeping the ball while Atletico looked to defend and try to get a crucial away goal on the counter. The match was mostly played in the Atletico half as the away side’s defence kept on repelling everything that Barcelona had to throw at them. Atletico looked threatening on the counter-attack and won a number of corners in the opening 20 minutes, but Barcelona dealt with them easily.
Both the sides were restricted to shots from distance as both sides rarely tested the opposite goalkeeper, with just 1 shot on target each in the first half. Juanfran’s foul on Neymar brought the first yellow card of the match for the defender, but the resulting free-kick was cleared away with ease and the referee brought the half to a close.
Simeone brought on Mario Mandzukic for Torres at half-time to hold the ball up and get Atletico in the game, but it seemed like his opposite number’s team talk had the desired effect as Barcelona kept on trying harder to break the resilient Atletico defence. Suarez looked out of sorts in the game as he kept on getting frustrated at the referee for not blowing the whistle for repeated fouls on him.
Both the managers sought to change the result of the match with their substitutions as Raul Garcia was introduced for Antoine Griezmann by Simeone, while Enrique brought on Xavi for Ivan Rakitic with 20 minutes to go in the match. A foul on Messi was seen by the referee and Messi stepped up to take the resultant free-kick.
His attempt of hitting it hard and low was blocked by the wall inside the box, but the ball fell to Sergio Busquets, who was fouled by Diego Godin. The referee had no hesitance in pointing to the spot for a golden chance for Barcelona to take the lead. Messi’s spot kick was however, saved by Jan Oblak, but the ball fell to the Argentine again as he tapped the ball in an empty net to give the home side a crucial advantage.
Messi has now scored 22 goals against Atletico Madrid – the most the Argentine has against any opposition. The match petered out to a close after a flurry of substitutions, but the crucial decision by the referee would be booking Godin in stoppage time, which results in the Uruguayan being suspended for the second leg of the quarter-finals.
The referee soon brought the match to a close to signal Barcelona’s win over Atletico in the first leg of the quarter-final. The second leg will be played at Atletico’s home – Vicente Calderon – on 29th January.
Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Lionel Messi (85’)
Here is the penalty decision
Messi’s penalty kick was stopped by Oblak, but the ball fell kindly to the Argentine, who made no mistake the second time.