'Copa del Rey' Latest News: Messi and Suarez Fire Barca Towards Final
Feb 02, 2017 10:50 PM EST
FC Barcelona is another step closer to defending their Copa del Rey title with a 2-1 first leg win over Athletico Madrid in the semi-final round. Two goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez gave Barca an advantage before the return match at home next week.
Omnisport reported that the Suarez goal in the seventh minute was set up by a challenge by team-mate Javier Mascherano while Messi's strike near the penalty box after 30 minutes of play forced the home side to change tactics after the break. Substitute Fernando Torres had his shot blocked early in the second half and then Antoine Griezmann pulled one back for the Madrid team just under an hour of play, but failed to equalise minutes later.
In a Guardian report, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique was quoted as saying that the team went to Madrid with the aim to score and that was what they did. The two goals at the Vicente Calderon would provide the Catalan club a valuable edge as they prepare for the second leg scheduled for next Tuesday. A win will give Barcelona their fourth consecutive appearance in the Copa del Rey.
Meanwhile, the Madrid side is not giving up on their chances to advance to the cup final. According to Skysports, Athletico manager Diego Simeone still believes that they have a shot at progressing to the final despite their home defeat.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Skysports quoted Simeone as saying that he was satisfied with his team's performance in the second half and sees an opportunity to turn the tide when they go to Camp Nou on Feb. 7.
"I'm very happy with the image we showed in the second half, with our intensity and attitude. We leave here with the sensation that if we play like that in the second leg, we can still go through," Simeone said.