Recap: Two second-half goals from Luis Suarez gave Barcelona a 2-1 lead from a frenetic and hot-tempered first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal with Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou. In a match that saw 12 yellow cards, Atletico were forced to play almost an hour with 10 men after Fernando Torres was handed his marching orders for two quick bookings, just minutes after he had given Atletico the lead.
When, 25 minutes in, Torres pounced on an overly proactive piece of defending from Gerard Pique to finish low past Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his first Champions League goal for his boyhood side, Atletico had the tie just where they wanted it. With their familiar compact defensive shape, Barcelona were struggling to find any attacking joy. Just three days after their loss to Real Madrid, Luis Enrique’s side were again lacking their usual sharpness and staring at their first back-to-back losses in 18 months.
But within 11 minutes of giving his team the lead, Torres needlessly handed Barcelona a welcome boost. Twice in the space of six minutes, the former Chelsea striker, perhaps over excited by finding the net, rushed clumsily into challenges, living the referee little choice but to bring out his red card.
The ramifications weren’t immediately felt, as Barcelona continued to struggle to find a way through. But the Champions League holders started the second half with far more intensity, and it soon became clear that it would be only a matter of time before they got on the scoresheet.
Atletico were defending desperately in numbers, but, having already seen Neymar strike the crossbar, just past the hour mark they buckled. Suarez got himself into the right place at the right time to turn in Jordi Alba’s wayward volley from the center of the six-yard box. And, with 16 minutes remaining, Suarez got his second and his 45th of the season, powering a header into the corner of the net from Dani Alves’ precise cross.
Barcelona pushed for the comfort of a third goal, and the fact that it didn’t come will provide some frustration for Luis Enrique. And, while his Atletico counterpart will have been disappointed at the way the game finished after such a strong start, Diego Simeone also has reason to be encouraged that his team managed to limit the damage to two goals and keep the tie very much alive.
FULLTIME: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid
A breathless, frenetic, hot-termpered duel at the Camp Nou ends with both teams having reason for both encouragement and frustration ahead of the second leg in Madrid next Wednesday. Atletico took a 25th minute lead through Fernando Torres and had their counter-punching gameplan working to perfection in the first half. But Torres' stupid dismissal for two yellow cards eventually cost them as the match wore on. Luis Suarez showed his clinical touch with two second-half goals to put Barcelona in the driving seat heading to the Vicente Calderon. Yet the fact that it was only 2-1 keeps Atletico very much alive.
94 mins: It's Barcelona pressing for a third goal in injury time, but Atletico doing well to close off any gaps in their own box.
90 mins: Atletico make their final change, taking off Saul Niguez for the young Argentine forward Angel Correa. Five minutes of injury time to be played.
86 mins: It's now seven men booked for Atletico, but it perhaps should have been a second red card. Substitute Augusto Fernandez lunged in recklessly on Dani Alves and was fortunate just to walk away with a caution.
85 mins: Messi goes down in the box after a one-two with Neymar through the referee's legs, but the official was having none of the penalty appeal.
82 mins: It's not just Atletico Madrid players getting in trouble with the referee. Javier Mascherano gets himself a booking for a late challenge on the touchline. Meanwhile, Luis Enrique has made his final switch, bringing on former Atletico man Arda Turan in place of Andres Iniesta.
80 mins: Barcelona make their second change, with 10 minutes remaining, taking off Sergio Busquets and bringing on Sergi Roberto.
Suarez's and Barcelona's second goal:
79 mins: And there's the sixth Atletico player with a yellow card. Jan Oblak joins the club after taking too long over a goal kick.
78 mins: Lucas becomes the fifth Atletico player to be booked, taking out Neymar with a cynical foul. Barcelona wanted a red card, but while the Brazilian was bursting through the last line of defense, it was too far out to call it an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
76 mins: Atletico now have no forwards on the pitch, having replaced Griezmann with the young midfielder Thomas Partey.
GOAL! Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid (Suarez, 74)
Barcelona have regained their momentum now. It's a lovely second goal for Suarez, who helped the ball out to the right for Dani Alves and then got himself to the center of the penalty box to powerfully head home the Brazilian's cross. Now Atletico face a tough task just to keep their deficit to one.
73 mins: Griezmann now gets a booking for taking down Alba and stopping a Barcelona counter attack. The game has become rather scrappy since Barcelona got their equalizer, something that will certainly please Atletico Madrid.
70 mins: Filipe Luis has gone down in his own penalty area clutching his face, with Atletico protesting wildly as to how he came to be there. After some commotion the referee has shown a yellow card to Suarez, and the replays show the Uruguayan shoved the Atletico defender to the ground. There wasn't much in it, but Suarez is treading on dangerous ground raising his hands, especially with a referee who has already produced a red card tonight.
Here's the video of Suarez's goal:
64 mins: Right after the goal, Luis Enrique makes his first change of the evening, replacing Ivan Rakitic with the recently returned Rafinha.
GOAL! Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid (Suarez, 63)
Well Atletico can hardly claim that goal wasn't coming. Suarez has been very quiet tonight, but he got himself in the right place ta the right time to turn in Jordi Alba's misshit volley from inside the six-yard box. You have to feel that won't be the end of Barcelona's scoring now. The Camp Nou is rocking.
62 mins: Neymar is enduring a frustrating night so far. Already having hit the crossbar and failed to take two headed chances, he has just curled a fine effort inches wide from 25 yards.
61 mins: Filipe Luis enters the referee's book and he's unlikely to be the last Atletico player to do so.
60 mins: It's like a training session of attacks against defense out there right now. On several occasions Atletico have had all 10 players within their own 18-yard box, desperately trying to keep Barcelona at bay. Surely they can't successfully keep this up for another 30 minutes.
57 mins: The way keep coming. Oblak is a busy man and gets down low to stop Messi's 20-yard effort before breathing a sigh of relief as Neymar was prevented from getting to the rebound.
55 mins: Another chance falls the way of Barcelona, and again its Neymar it comes to. Rakitic digs out a good cross that Neymar arrives on the end of. This time his header is on target, but it's straight at Oblak. It's an all-out siege now.
54 mins: Diego Simeone has reacted to Barcelona's start to the second half, taking off Carrasco and bringing on defensive midfielder Augusto Fernandez. Griezmann will now be the lone man up front as Atletico try to hang on here.
51 mins: Neymar hits the crossbar! The pressure from Barcelona is really coming now. Neymar brilliantly deceived two defenders beating Oblak with a right-footed shot only to be denied by the crossbar. Moments later Filipe Luis had to make a crucial last-ditch interception to stop Suarez from having a simple finish from close range.
49 mins: The eventful start to the second half continues. Seconds after Carrasco's low drive across the face of goal just failed to be turned goalward by Griezmann, Neymar's cross found Messi with his back to goal, but the Argentine's overhead kick just went wide of the post.
47 mins: A real opening for Atletico at the start of the second half. Saul Niguez chipped the ball back from the byline onto the head of Filipe Luis, but his goal-bound effort came back off Javier Mascherano. Luis' forward surge then allowed Barcelona to take advantage of his vacancy in defense, but Suarez was caught offside.
Second Half Kickoff! Barcelona get the match back underway, down a goal, but up a man.
Here's the challenge from Torres that earned him his second yellow card:
HALFTIME: Barcelona 0-1 Atletico Madrid (Torres, 25)
No question which player dominated the first-half storyline. Fernando Torres took advantage of a Barcelona defensive lapse to fire Atletico ahead and deliver them a precious away goal. But within the next 10 minutes he had turned his night on its head by twice needlessly getting booked with over-eager challenges. So far, though, the numerical advantage hasn't helped Barcelona. The hosts look sluggish once again and are have to quicken the pace of their play if they are to break through Atletico's disciplined rearguard.
45+2 mins: Neymar tries to take the onus on himself to get through Atletico, but after beating a man he shoots high over the bar on his left foot from 25 yards out. Plenty of frustration around the Camp Nou despite having a man advantage.
45 mins: Barcelona still haven't find a way to break through Atletico's line 25 yards from goal. So often it's come down to Messi trying to chip delicate balls through into the box, and Atletico snuffing out the danger. Two minutes of injury time to be played.
42 mins: The red card won't really alter Atletico's tactics too much, only make them a little more content to frustrate Barcelona, although it's now Yannick Ferrerira Carrasco alone up front, with Griezmann slotting in on the left of midfield.
Red Card! Torres (35)
Just 10 minutes after putting his team in front, Torres has foolishly given Barcelona a huge boost. Having been booked only six minutes earlier, Torres, clearly still fired up from his goal, ran right through the back of Sergio Busquets. It wasn't the worst challenge you'll ever see a yellow card awarded for, but a player of his experience should know far better to go in for a tackle like that, in a harmless area in the center of the pitch, when already on a booking.
35 mins: Barcelona really have their work cut out now, attempting to break down an Atletico side that now have the comfort of an away goal in the bag. Luis Enrique's side have given little suggestion that they can find a breakthrough since going behind.
32 mins: So close to a second goal for Atletico. Griezmann stretches onto a shot on the edge of the box after a fine chipped pass from Torres, and Ter Stegen has to go down at full stretch to help it wide. This game is going near perfectly for Atletico so far.
Here's Torres' goal:
GOAL! Barcelona 0-1 Atletico Madrid (Torres, 25)
Fernando Torres silences the Camp Nou! Gerard Pique committed himself, coming out of the back line to confront Koke, who poked a perfectly weighted ball through for the Atletico striker to finish low and hard right through Marc-Andre ter-Stegen. What a precious goal that could prove to be.
24 mins: Atletico's chief danger man Antoine Griezmann finds himself in a threatening position for the first time, but, like Messi earlier, he drags his low left-footed strike wide of the near post.
20 mins: A big chance for Barcelona. Atletico were careless again at the back, allowing Dani Alves this time to put in a cross. Neymar rose to meet it in the middle, but failed to keep his header down.
16 mins: The game is very much starting to settle into a pattern now. Atletico are sitting back with their two lines of four and Torres and Antoine Griezmann dropping deep ahead of them, just challenging Barcelona to break them down.
13 mins: Another chance for Messi. Juanfran missed a couple of tackles down the right, allowing Jordi Alba to deliver a cross that reaches Messi, but, under pressure from Felipe Luis, he sliced his volley a long way wide of Oblak's goal.
12 mins: It's been a fairly sloppy start from both teams, far too many passes needlessly given away. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fernando Torres has been the worst culprit.
8 mins: No surprise in Atletico's tactics, pressing initially but then sitting back and staying very compact in their own half before looking to engage and break, much as Real Madrid did on Saturday.
5 mins: Messi has the game's first effort at goal, taking Neymar's pass and cutting in on his left foot, but dragging a shot well wide of Oblak's goal. Still, Barcelona have started with more intensity to their play than they displayed for much of the Clasico loss.
2 mins: Barcelona's front three were well below their usual best on Saturday, and they've tried to make an impact early tonight. Lionel Messi's chipped through ball, though, just ran away from Luis Suarez.
KICKOFF! Atletico Madrid get the Champions League quarterfinal first leg underway at the Camp Nou, with both teams, rather disappointingly, wearing their away kit.
2:23 p.m. EDT: The major piece of team news for the game is that Diego Godin does start for Atletico Madrid, partnering Lucas Hernandez at the back. Barcelona, meanwhile, are unchanged from the defeat to Real Madrid, other than Marc-Andre ter Stegen, as ic custom in the Champions League, taking over from Claudio Bravo in goal.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 5, 2016
— Atleti English (@atletienglish) April 5, 2016
Preview: Barcelona and Atlético Madrid will face off for a place in the Champions League semifinals for the second time in three years, starting with Tuesday’s first leg at the Camp Nou. In 2014, it was Atlético who triumphed en route to progressing all the way to the final in a sensational season in which they also edged out Barcelona to take the Spanish league title.
But if Diego Simeone had found a way to neutralize Barcelona back then, going six matches unbeaten against them in the 2013-14 season, he has as yet failed to find the masterplan to silence Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. In all six matches played between the sides since the trio came together, Barcelona have come out on top.
With Barcelona streaking toward the league title, already in the final of the Copa del Rey and on course to repeat as Champions League winners, there was little to suggest that Atlético could reverse the trend when the draw was made for this season’s quarterfinals. However, events of the past few days will have given Atlético renewed hope.
For starters, Barcelona saw their 39-match unbeaten streak fall by the wayside on Saturday when going down 2-1 to Real Madrid in front of a packed Camped Nou. And on the same day as Barcelona labored to defeat, relinquishing a 1-0 advantage, Atlético Madrid put on an impressive show to trounce Real Betis, 5-1.
Atlético are now within six points of Barcelona at the top of La Liga. But, whether or not they have genuine belief that the title race has been reignited, they have reason to think that their Champions League chances have been boosted. Their hopes have been aided, too, by key central defender Diego Godín being declared fit.
Check back here from 2:45 p.m. EDT for video highlights and live score updates from the first leg at the Camp Nou.