Saturday , September 30 2023

Luis Suárez gets it done against ten men

second half brace from Luis Suárez helped Barcelona rally from a 1-0 deficit to down Atlético Madrid, 2-1, on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg.

Fernando Torres scored in the 25th minute to give the guests the lead, but Barcelona answered in the second half through Suárez in the 63rd and 74th minutes.

It was a night of extreme highs and lows for Torres, as El Niño gave Atlético a precious away goal, only to be sent off 10 minutes following his score. Nevertheless, the goal does provide Atlético a lift prior to next Wednesday’s return leg at the Vicente Calderón.

For Barcelona, a frustrating first hour finally gave way to a spirited final 30 minutes as Luis Enrique’s men earned their seventh straight win against Atlético.

After being shut down by Real in Saturday’s 2-1 Clásico loss, Lionel Messi showed an early appetite for a goal and just minutes in the Argentine rifled a left-footer that went blazing just wide of Jan Oblak’s goal. That was followed by a Jordi Alba cross that Messi tried to volley home, only to hook it well wide.

But it was Neymar who should have opened the scoring when the Brazilian was picked out by countryman Dani Alves on a cross from the right, but the former Santos man smacked it right over the crossbar.

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez (right) celebrates in trademark fashion after levelling the scoring in front of his own supporters 

Diego Simeone’s men managed to absorb the early pressure, and in true Atlético style they struck on their first real chance of the match when Koke beautifully played a ball in for Torres, as the former Liverpool man split the Barcelona centre-backs, ran onto Koke’s pass and sent a shot through Marc-André ter Stegen’s legs to give Atlético a 1-0 lead. For Torres, it was his 11th career goal scored against Barcelona.

The movement of Torres and fellow forward Antoine Griezmann continued to riddle the Barcelona defence, and minutes after Torres goal, Griezmann nearly doubled the lead with a top-spinning shot that required a diving save from Ter Stegen.

For all the brilliance exhibited by Torres on his goal, the veteran showed a shocking lack of composure in the minutes that followed and was slapped with two yellow cards in six minutes, reducing Atlético to 10 men with more than a half to play.

Torres sees red just 10 minutes after opening the scoring as referee Felix Brych punishes the Spaniard for two yellow card offences

However, if there is one team that is equipped to handle playing a man down, regardless of the opponent, it is Atlético. Simeone’s men were resolute in their

defending, clamping down on Barcelona’s dangermen when necessary to end the half with the score in their favour.

Barcelona pressed for an equaliser at the start of the second stanza, and Messi well near pulled off the goal of the tournament, but his overhead kick off a Neymar pass flashed just wide. Minutes later Neymar had Atlético fans worrying when his curling shot rattled off the crossbar.

The 32-year-old striker looks dejected as he makes his way off of the Nou Camp pitch following his daft red card in Barcelona

The barrage from the home side continued. Simeone conceded the flanks to Barcelona and opted to keep his men camped in the area, giving Barcelona plenty of looks at goal, including Neymar heading right at Oblak and then the Brazilian sending a shot just wide.

Of the three men who make up the ‘MSN’, it was Suárez who had been kept quiet until just after the hour mark when the Uruguayan was in the right place at the right time to redirect an Alba mis-hit into Oblak’s net to draw Barcelona level 1-1.

Barcelona smelled blood, and the hosts pushed for a winner while Atlético remained pegged back. The Camp Nou could sense a second goal, and it all came to fruition just before the final quarter-hour as Suárez played a nifty one-two combination with Alves that ended with Suárez powering home a header from the penalty spot.

Luis Enrique’s men were keen to tally a third to pad their lead on aggregate, but Atlético had just enough to ward off any further danger, leaving the tie in doubt with a full 90 minutes to play next week on the banks of the Manzanares.

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