Madrid, Feb 8: There were three red cards and tension from start to finish as FC Barcelo clung to a 1-1 draw at home with Atletico Madrid to assure their fourth King’s Cup football appearance in four years.
Sergi Roberto and Luis Suarez were sent off for Barca while Yannick Carrasco got his marching orders for Atletico as Barca made good on their 2-1 win from the first leg against a rival who were the better side on Tuesday night, reports Xinhua news agency.
The first half saw Atletico take the game by the scruff of the neck, and once again Diego Simeone’s side showed that they are not afraid of anyone.
Time and again, Atletico’s pressure saw them rob the ball in Barca’s half and put the goal defended by Jasper Cillesson under threat.
Carrasco saw the Barca keeper make a good save in just the sixth minute as Atletico launched a counterattack after a Barca corner. Five minutes later, Cillesson again saved an effort from Stefan Savic, although the attempt was ruled out for offside. He also stopped a powerful shot from Koke.
Barca had done virtually nothing in the Atletico half, but just as in their weekend win over Athletic Club Bilbao, their first chance ended up in the net.
Leo Messi was the architect with a mazy win and low shot which Miguel Angel Moya did well to save, only for the loose ball to fall to Suarez who slid it into the empty net.
Diego Godin had to leave the pitch after 48 minutes and was replaced by Lucas Herndez, who has been in the news of late after being charged with domestic violence for an incident with his former partner.
Barca were reduced to 10 men shortly after Sergi Roberto saw his second yellow card of the night for a high challenge on Felipe Luis, moments before he was going to be replaced by Aleix Vidal.
Vidal sat down after the expulsion and Javier Mascherano came on to add some muscle to the Barca defence. But Atletico were also reduced to 10 players in the 69th minute when Carrasco got his marching orders after a late challenge.
Messi smashed a free kick against the Atletico cross bar from 30 yards with 13 minutes remaining just a minute before Gerard Pique committed a pelty against Kevin Gameiro.
Gameiro picked himself up and launched the pelty high over the bar, but immediately made amends in the 83rd minute with a tap in following a Griezmann pass as the Barca defence seemed to go to sleep.
There was still time for drama as Suarez saw two yellow cards in five minutes to leave Barca with just nine players to cling on for five minutes of injury time. (IANS)