Copa Del Rey: Messi, Suarez inflict more pains on Atletico
Copa Del Rey By: Ambrose Udeme | 01/02/2017
Atletico Madrid's struggles in recent fixtures continued on Wednesday following a 2-1 home defeat to Barcelona in a Copa del Rey semi-final first leg clash at the Vicente Calderón, rendering them winless in four successive games.Barcelona flew out of the traps with goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, leaving Atletico Madrid already staring at a Copa del Rey semi-final exit. Antoine Griezman's goal just before the hour mark was not enough as the Catalans held on to inflict more pains on the capital Boys.Barcelona made six changes for the semi-final first leg in the capital while the hosts Atletico opted for just three changes.Jasper Cillessen, Barca’s cup goalkeeper, returned between the sticks as Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and lucky charm Samuel Umtiti all returned in defence.In the middle of the park, Aleix Vidal and Denis Suarez made way for Javier Mascherano and Andre Gomes.Having drawn their last three Atletico Madrid were not prepared to throw caution to the wind in ending their run as right-back Juanfran doubled up with Sime Vrsaljko down the right. Diego Simeone replaced Josema Gimenez with Stefan Savic at centre-back. Captain Gabi Fernandez was back in the line-up with Kevin Gameiro benched.First HalfBarcelona wasted no time as Neymar was released by Lionel Messi down the inside-right, but the Brazilian's cutback was cleared for a corner by Stefan Savic. A fantastic goal from Luis Suarez, which had shades of his memorable nutmeg on David Luiz in the Champions League two years ago broke the deadlock to give the visitors the lead. The Uruguayan dropped deep to pick the ball up from Javier Mascherano, before driving forward, leaving an opponent for dead and poking a finish past Miguel Moya.Atletico placed a header just wide, before another was planted on the roof of Jasper Cillessen's net. Nothing was going for Atletico whose call for a corner was waived as Saul Niguez was deemed to have had the last touch on the ball down the left, not Gerard Pique, who smothers for a Barca goal kick.Moments later, Pique made a huge block to stop Filipe's cross from reaching Carrasco in the Barca box. The Catalans then launch a counterattack from the resulting corner, before Atleti broke back but Griezmann was pickpocketed by Ivan Rakitic.