Barcelona successfully advanced to the Copa del Rey Final after a 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid on Tuesday's semifinal second leg at Camp Nou (3-2 on aggregate). The Blaugrana suffered for the entire 90 minutes of a match full of whistles and red cards, but eventually held on to a key result that will send them to the title decider for the third consecutive season under Luis Enrique.
The first 30 minutes were an absolute terror for Barcelona. Atlético pressed high up the pitch for half an hour and forced lots and lots of hopeful, wasteful long balls from the hosts. There was clean build-up play from Barça, and this resulted in the visitors getting the ball back quickly and creating loads of chances.
During that horrible 30 minutes, Jasper Cillessen was the star of the show, making save after save and cleaning up mistakes from his teammates. After that, though, Barça took control and began dominating possession and the space. André Gomes grew into the game and did a wonderful job distributing the ball in the attacking half, and the Blaugrana started to become dangerous.
And then, two minutes before halftime, Leo Messi received a pass from Suárez, made a quick run into the edge of the area and fired a rocket at Moyá, who couldn't hold on to the ball and sent the rebound to the foot of an onside Luisito, who easily tapped the first goal in.
At halftime, a very poor performance that improved enough to earn a goal. One more and the place in the Final would be Barça's.
The final period for Barça was all about holding on to the lead without any suffering and trying to find the tie-ending goal. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Sergi Roberto committed a dangerous foul on Filipe Luís, received a second yellow card and was sent off, which forced Barça to play the final 30 minutes with 10 men.
On the very next play after the red card incident, Antoine Griezmann was played onside by Gerard Piqué and scored Atleti's equalizer, but the linesman disallowed the goal. A big mistake. The Colchoneros went forward looking for their goal with an extra man on the pitch, but they couldn't and the numbers were level when Yannick Carrasco got a second booking and was also sent off.
Both teams had ten men, and Luis Enrique made substitutions to beef up his midfield and control the ball in the final minutes. It worked well, until Kevin Gameiro dived in the box and won a penalty. The Frenchman himself took the spot kick and sent it over the open roof of the Camp Nou, but Gameiro did finally find a goal with 10 minutes to go, and things got really interesting. Another Atleti goal would send it to overtime, and they clearly wanted that goal. They had an easier path to the Final when Luis Suárez was sent off and Barça were down to NINE men.
But Atleti couldn't find the goal, including an open-net miss from Griezmann, and Barça held on to the draw and advanced to the Final.
Barcelona: Cillessen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic (Iniesta), Gomes, Denis (Mascherano); Messi, Suárez, Arda (Busquets)
Goal: Suárez (43')
Atlético: Moyá; Juanfran, Godín (Lucas), Savic, Luis; Carrasco, Koke, Saúl, Gaitán (Correa); Griezmann, Torres (Gameiro)
Goal: Gameiro (83')