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Courtois the hero as Atletico take 1-1 draw from Camp Nou

English.news.cn   2014-04-02 07:30:40

MADRID, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was the hero of the night as Atletico Madrid's magnificent defensive display saw them draw 1-1 away to FC Barcelona in the first leg of the all Spanish Champions League quarter-final.

The Belgian goalkeeper, who is in his third season on loan with Atletico, produced a series of fine saves, especially in the second half, to keep the scores level as Barca pushed for a winning goal.

Diego Ribas had given Atletico the lead early in the second half, but Neymar leveled the scores 20 minutes from time of a fascinating game which leaves everything to play for in next week' s return leg.

Diego Costa was able to overcome his knee injury to take his place in the Atletico starting 11 and was soon making his presence felt as Atletico looked to pressure Barca high up the field.

The three previous games between the two sides this season had ended in draws and it was soon clear this would be another tight encounter, although Atletico almost opened the scoring after Barca keeper, Jose Pinto showed his weakness with his feet as he almost set up David Villa with a poor clearance after just 10 minutes.

Barca defender Gerard Pique was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury after just 10 minutes following a challenge from Costa, who also went off with a similar injury just before the half hour.

Marc Bartra replaced Pique, while Diego Rivas came on for Costa but the game continued to see few chances apart from an Andres Iniesta shot which was charged down by Diego Godin and a Villa effort which Pinto saved low to his left in the closing minutes of the half as the home fans became increasingly frustrated with what they considered the referee's lenience with Atletico's physical approach, which saw them punished with three yellow cards before the break.

Diego Rivas gave Atletico the lead 12 minutes after the break with a swerving shot from distance as Barca seemed to lose concentration following a free kick in midfield and with Atletico defending so well, it looked grim for Barca.

Sergio Busquets saw a volley well saved by Courtois and Messi failed to direct a driven cross on target, but Atletico were reasonably comfortable until a moment of magic between Andres Iniesta and Neymar 20 minutes from time saw Neymar score with a diagonal shot after Iniesta had opened up the Atletico defense.

From then on it was all Barca with Courtois saving magnificently from Iniesta and Messi as the clock ticked down and Barca laid siege to the Atletico area, but with no further goals, Atletico take a slight advantage to the Vicente Calderon for the second leg.

Editor: Yamei Wang
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