Lionel Messi scored a late goal to give Barcelona the advantage from their Copa del Rey quarterfinal with Atlético Madrid. Barcelona looked set to be frustrated by a typically resilient performance by Diego Simeone’s men at the Camp Nou, before they were handed the chance for a crucial breakthrough when Juanfran brought down Sergio Busquets in the box heading toward the final five minutes. Messi saw his penalty brilliantly saved first time by Jan Oblak, but the Argentinian was the quickest to react to turn the ball in at the second attempt and give his side a 1-0 lead heading to the second leg at the Vicente Calderon in a week’s time.
Barcelona had beaten Atlético 3-1 in La Liga just 10 days ago and they started brightly again on this occasion. But Atlético showed why they had previously gone six matches unbeaten against the Catalans, including a victory in the quarterfinals of the Champions League last season. Both sides had chances in the first half, with Luis Suarez missing the clearest of the match for Luis Enrique’s side and Fernando Torres, starting ahead of Mario Mandzukic, failing to show the cutting edge that provided the two goals to give Atlético victory over Real Madrid in the last round.
As Atlético continued to hold firm, Barcelona’s ire was raised further by some questionable decisions by the referee. But they got the decision that mattered most to get what could prove to be a crucial goal between two teams who continue to be so tightly matched.