Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid Champions League 1st leg: Neymar rescues Barca from defeat

Messi missed two opportunities in the first half

An exquisite goal from Neymar rescued a 1-1 draw for Barcelona after substitute Diego had put La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid ahead in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

A stunning 35-metre strike from Diego put Atletico in the driving seat after 56 minutes but Barcelona, aiming for their seventh successive semi-final appearance, hit back with a bending effort from Neymar 15 minutes later.

"We are satisfied because I think we played a good match," Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois told Spanish broadcaster TVE. "We scored a brilliant goal through Diego and then we defended very well.

"A 1-1 draw is a good result and at the Calderon I think anything is possible. With our fans behind us it's like having an extra player and hopefully we can put on a good performance."

Atletico lost their talisman in attack, Diego Costa, to injury early on and still had the better chances in the first half through David Villa.

It has been a remarkable season for La Liga leaders Atletico and they showed typical resistance before Barca found a way through when Andres Iniesta played in Neymar and he curled the ball round Courtois from a tight angle.

Pinto was the only change to the Barca side that defeated Manchester City in the previous round, coming in for injured keeper Victor Valdes, and he put them in trouble in the opening minutes.

His clearance went straight to Arda Turan and he found Barca old boy Villa who fired wide in front of goal.

It got worse for the home side when centre half Gerard Pique went off with a back problem after coming off worse in a challenge with Costa.

The hosts gradually worked their way more and more into the game and an Iniesta strike was blocked by Diego Godin before Costa had to leave the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Lionel Messi had a header comfortably saved by Courtois and Neymar shot over the bar but Atletico finished the first half stronger and this time Pinto came to the home team's rescue, diving to deny Villa inside the area.

Diego's shot from distance sparked Barca into action and their pressure finally paid off with Neymar's spectacular strike.

"The game was what we were expecting with a very intense Atletico team," said Barca captain Xavi. "We had our chances to score and it was a shame they scored that fantastic goal.

"Barca deserved to win. We had more scoring chances but they work very hard in defence and it was very difficult for us to find a way through."

FULL TIME

Barcelona 1 (Neymar 71) Atletico 1 ('Diego 56')

Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico in their UEFA Champions league quarter-final first leg match at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.

Barcelona though having more ball possesion in the first half were made to work hard by the Atletico Madrid.

Barca looked in complete control but missed opportunities with Messi failing twice.

Madrid lauboured with Villa, Koke and Gabi making a impact with their attack.

Madrid's Gabi,Turan and Koke were booked while Barcelona looked in top form but lacked finishing at the blow of the half time whistle.

As the match progressed in the second half Diego stunned the Barca defencein the 56th minute taking a long range shot which dipped into the net out of the grasp of the outstreched keeper Colorado.

Barca ploughed back in the 71st minute with Neymar slotting home a Inesta pass to restore parity.

Both teams fough fiercely with the keeper issuing yellow cards to Alba and Inesta in the second half. But though Barcelona looked the better team they failed to fire in the added 3 minutes of the full time.

93" Barcelona though havig the edge had to be content with a 1-1 draw at the blow of the full time whistle.

90" Both teams struggle to increase their lead with Barcelona almost coming close with Neymar and Messi in the box.

89" Juanfran attempts to halt Neymar but brings him down and the yellow card man looks gingerly towards the ref.

86" Barcelona's keeper Colorado is tested again with Sosa and Diego and in top form.

85" Messi and Xavi plot a freekick move with Messi takinga crisping shot from the edge of the box but misses.

83" Sosa makes a dash with the ball but is intercepted by Inesta and there is a game shift again.

81" Neymar is brought down on the edge of the box earning a free kick but its a lost opportunity again.

79" As the game progresses the ref is having a tough time keepinga check on the teams. Yellow cards have been shown to both teams in quick sucessions.

77" Madrid make quick change with Rodriguez taking guard in place of Turan.Madrid press hard for the break with fresh legs on the field.

75" Both teams fight hard to increase the lead with Barcelona having the edge.

71" GOAL! Inesta scripts a wonderful move in teh box lofting the ball to Neymar in the left who takes a first timer into the net.

Barcelona 1 (Neymar 71) Atletico 1 ('Diego 56')

68" Barcelona make a change with  Madrid following replacing Villa with Sosa.

66" Barcelona move the ball in the box with Inesta and Messi looking for comfort from the right flank.

65" Messi is strongly marked by the defence and he misses to get a clean header off Inesta.

62" Madrid looking strong in counter attack put Barca under immense pressure at this stage.

61" Barcelona look desperate to cover lost ground and end up earning two yellow cards. Inesta and Alba booked.

Barcelona 0 Atletico 1 (Diego 56')

56" GOAL! Diego attempts a solo dash taking a rasping shot from the edge of teh box with the ball dipping into the net.

54" Madrid fight with Diego being brought down by Inesta.

53" Barcelona make sharp passes with Messi and Neymar looking to trap the right ball.

51" Madrid fail to maintain pressure with Juanfran ending up being booked for a dangerous attack on Neymar.

49" Juanfran and Turan make a dash into the Barca domain but are stopped by Busquets.

48" Madrid's keeper is tested yet again by a lofted shot by Neymar.

47" Barcelona have begun attacking strongly with Inesta and Neymar looking dangerous in the box.

46" Barcelona move the ball around with Messi and Xavi on the attack.

HALF TIME

Barcelona 0 Atletico 0

45" Villa covering lost ground makes a dash but is blocked by Inesta. Ref signals half time with the players retreating to the tunnel.

45" Madrid push ahead with Luis and Gabi making threatening moves in the box.

45" Villa and Koke script moves for Madrid but lack in finishing against their stylish rivals.

44" Turan makes a ugle tackle on Messi and has to pay with a yellow card.

43" Madrid move up with the ball but are shortlived with Messi making a dash with ball.

41" Barcelona are adamant with Messi looking in top for in the box, jumps to slice in a header but is collected well by the keeper.

39" Neymar moves quickly off a Xavi ball into the box but fails to make contact.

37" Neymar moves swiftly into the box but is brought down with a ugly tackle by Gabi and is booked by the alert ref.

36" Fabregas shoots clean with the ball bouncing off a defender moving wide off the mark.

33" Inesta is brought down on the edge of the box earning a free kick.

33" Xavi and Alves plot the moves with Messi waiting for the slip.

32" Luis moves the ball around for Madrid with Inesta blocking his move.

31" Barcelona struggle to get the opening with Messi and Inesta dribbling through the defence.

29" Madrid get their act together with Diego on the ball.

27" Barcelona lose their grip on the ball this time with Madrid making ground.

25" Barcelona maintain the presure with Inesta coming close to opening the account but misses his mark.

23" Messi feeds a true pass with Alves in the box misisng to make contact.

22" Madrid playing to a defensive game with  Courtois being severly tested under the bar.

21" Barcelona step up the attack with Messi and Neymar tormenting their rivals.

19" Throw in for Madrid but Barcelona manage to snatch teh ball with Messi in the box.

18" Neymar is brought down dangerously by Koke and is booked.

16"  Barcelona make inroads with Neymar looking for Messi to finish.

15" Inesta brought down with a ugly tackle appeals to the ref but game moves on.

14" Madrid moves the ball around with Gabi and Miranda.

12" Costa looks for the ball as Madrid pushes on.

11" Pique is down attempting with a hamstring attempting a header. Moves out replaceb by Batra.

10" Barcelona surge ahead with Messi on the ball.

The Catalan side though will be without Isaac Cuenca and Victor Valdes through injury.

Carlos Puyol, Martin Montoya and Pedro are all doubtful. Cesc Fabregas is one booking away from suspension.

Raul Garcia is suspended, while Emiliano Insua is one booking away from a ban.

STAT ATTACK

Barcelona have drawn their last 3 matches against Atletico in all competitions.

Atletico have won 7 of their last 8 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers).

Barcelona have won their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers).

PROBABLE FORMATIONS

Barcelona: 4-3-3

Atletico Madrid: 4-4-2

PREVIEW

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino and his Atletico Madrid counterpart Diego Simeone clashed as rival players in their native Argentina and there will be no quarter given when they meet in the last eight of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Almost three decades later and the older and wiser Martino and Simeone are in charge of two Spanish teams with a genuine chance of achieving a rare double of Champions League and La Liga titles.

Atletico are a point clear of Barca at the top of Spain's domestic league with seven games left and their final match of the campaign is another trip to Barca's daunting Nou Camp arena in May.

They have already played each other three times this term, with very little to choose between the sides.

Barca pipped Atletico to the season-opening Spanish Super Cup when Neymar's goal in a 1-1 first-leg draw in Madrid was enough for Barca after the second leg ended 0-0.

Their La Liga game at the Calderon in January also finished goalless.

Barca warmed up for Tuesday's last eight, first leg with a laboured 1-0 win at city rivals Espanyol on Saturday thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty, while Diego Costa and Koke scored for Atletico in a 2-1 comeback win at Athletic Bilbao.

The three meetings between Barca and Atletico so far this season have ended in draws, two of which came in the domestic Super Cup which the Catalans won on away goals.

Since making his return from two months out due to a hamstring injury just before the latest clash at the Calderon, Messi has hit top form, scoring nine times in his last five games in all competitions.

The Argentine has now struck 36 times in as many games this season, but Atletico's Diego Costa is only three behind Messi with 33 goals so far this campaign.

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