Champions League - Koke scores as Atletico stun Liga rivals Barca

Champions League quarter-final, second leg, Vicente Calderon – Atletico Madrid 1 (Koke 6) Barcelona 0 (Atletico Madrid win 2-1 on aggregate)

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Champions League - Koke scores as Atletico stun Liga rivals Barca
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Atletico Madrid progressed to the semi-finals for the first time since 1974 courtesy of a tense 1-0 victory on the night resulting in a 2-1 aggregate win over Spanish rivals Barcelona in the Champions League.

In a breathtaking start, Diego Simeone's side took the lead on six minutes through playmaker Koke but would be denied by the woodwork three times in the opening 20 minutes, while Lionel Messi headed wide from eight yards after meeting Dani Alves' cross.

Two penalty appeals ended the first-half on a controversial note, with Lopez going down under a challenge from Javier Mascherano, and Cesc Fabregas felled by Diego Godin down the other end.

Barca went close early in the second half when Xavi played through Neymar, but the Brazilian was brilliantly denied by Thibaut Courtois. Barcelona continued to apply the pressure but Atletico - who had won 16 of their previous 17 matches in European competition - held firm.

And they looked dangerous on the counter as highlighted when substitute Diego forced stand-in goalkeeper Jose Pinto into a reflex stop. Atletico could have sealed the match with just over 20 minutes to go when Villa snuck behind the defence but, with just Pinto to beat, he produced a weak attempt at goal.

The hosts were then denied a penalty when Mascherano bundled over Villa in the box but once again Howard Webb waved played on.

Neymar would have possibly the best and final chance for Barcelona when he got in front of Miranda to win a diving header but saw his effort go just inches wide.

Just like their neighbours Real Madrid the previous night, Atletico held on to claim a place in the last four of the Champions League.

KEY MOMENTS

PREMATCH - COSTA MISSES OUT. Atletico's hopes have been dealt with a blow as hitman Diego Costa misses out through injury.

5' - GOAL! (Atletico 1-0 Barca): Lopez thumped the post with a smashing effort. The ball came back to Atletico with Villa on the flank, he delivers his cross towards Garcia who plays a cushion header to Koke who sends the ball into the back of the net. What a start for the hosts!

11' - SO CLOSE! Villa sees his shot smash off the post this time when he really should have scored! He latches onto Koke's through ball which sees him behind the Barca defence and sees his shot beat the goalkeeper but hit the woodwork.

12' - MESSI! What a chance! He doesn't often miss chances like that! Dani Alvez delivers a wonderful cross towards an unmarked Messi who heads inches wide of the goal.

18' - CHANCE! Villa has smashed the woodwork AGAIN! He neatly heads the ball down in the penalty area before unleashing a powerful drive at goal and with Pinto beaten once more Barca are saved by the crossbar. Atletico have now hit the left hand post, the right hand post and the middle of the crossbar.

43' - PENALTY APPEAL! This time Fabregas falls in the penalty area after a tackle from Godin, but the assistant is close to the incident and says no foul!

49' - DOUBLE CHANCE! Xavi plays in Neymar but Courtois makes a terrific stop! The Chelsea loanee then stumbles but thankfully for him Xavi puts the ball over the bar!

63'  - DIEGO! The substitute bursts forward and strikes a shot from a tight angle which Pinto does well to save.

69' - WHAT A CHANCE! Gabi breaks forward brilliantly in a lovely counter attacking move from Atletico, he plays a return pass with Villa and finds himself behind the defence but can only produce a really weak attempt at goal which Pinto saves.

77' - CHANCE! Neymar gets in front of Miranda to win a diving header but sees his effort go just inches wide of the target. Big chance!

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KEY STATS

All four meetings between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid this season had been draw previously. Twice 0-0 and twice 1-1.

Iniesta became the fifth player to play 500 official matches for Barcelona following Xavi, Migueli, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes.

Lionel Messi had scored 19 goals in his last 20 Champions League appearances away from the Camp Nou prior to this match. He has not scored against Atletico Madrid for six matches now.

(Opta)

TALKING POINT

Can Atletico Madrid actually win the Champions League? Diego Simeone's side were so dangerous and should have had this match put to bed by half-time. And that's without their star man in Diego Costa. They will not be afraid of meeting anyone in the semi-final, especially considering their amazing European record which has saw them win 17 out of their last 18 games. The Vicento Caledron is an intimidating place for any team to come to and with confidence at an all time high, Atletico can't be taken lightly.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Koke (Atletico Madrid): All of the Atletico players were so impressive but you can't look past Koke who was at the heart of every home attack throughout. PLAYER RATINGS

Atletico: Courtois 8, Juanfran 7, Miranda 7, Godín 7, Filipe 8, Gabi 7, Koke 9, Tiago 8, Raúl García 8, Adrián 8, Villa 8. Subs: Rodríguez 7, Diego 7. Barca: Pinto 7, Fàbregas 7, Xavi 7, Iniesta 7, Messi 6, Neymar 7, Mascherano 6, Bartra 6, Sergio 6, Alba 6, Alves 6. Subs: Alexis 6, Pedro 6.

MATCH IN A TWEET

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