Cyprus Mail
Champions League

Atletico knock holders Barca out of Champions League

Antoine Griezmann scored twice for a superbly-organised Atletico Madrid side

Holders Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League after being stifled by a brilliantly well-organised Atletico Madrid and undone by two goals from Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 quarter-final, second leg defeat on Wednesday.

Griezmann headed home from Saul Niguez’s exquisite cross to give the home side a deserved lead in the 36th minute before the Frenchman scored again from the penalty spot with two minutes remaining, following a handball from Andres Iniesta.

Diego Simeone’s men comfortably contained their uncharacteristically limp opponents and their 3-2 aggregate victory eliminated Barca at the quarter final stage for the second time in three seasons.

The result was a shining example of Atletico coach Simeone’s tactical astuteness as his side restricted Barcelona to very few chances.

While the visitors grew into the game in the second half, they struggled to create clear openings. Their best opportunity fell to Luis Suarez, the scorer of both goals in their 2-1 win in the first leg, but the Uruguayan could only shoot straight at Jan Oblak.

Barcelona, who were bidding to become the first team to retain the Champions League, seem to have run out of steam at the end of the season, having won just one of their last five matches.

In what turned into a niggly encounter with numerous fouls as well as incidents of playacting and time wasting, Suarez risked getting sent off for elbowing compatriot Diego Godin, but was only shown a yellow card.

Barcelona also had Neymar booked for kicking out at Juanfran, while Atletico, whose players spent much of the second half berating the referee, had just captain Gabi booked.

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