FC Barcelona will take a slender 2-1 lead for their Champions League quarter-final second leg after two second half goals from Luis Suarez helped them beat 10-man Atletico Madrid.
An intense game between the two sides on Tuesday in the Spanish league was perhaps decided by Atletico striker Fernando Torres, who left the pitch with 55 minutes to play, Xinhua news agency reported.
Diego Simeone’s side was able to recall Diego Godin and youngster Lucas, who replaced injured Stefan Savic, in the heart of the visitors’ defence, while Barca named an unchanged starting 11 to that which lost to Real Madrid on Saturday.
It was clear from the start that Atletico had come to Barcelona to fight every inch of the way and although Barca went close through a Messi shot which went wide and a Neymar header which flashed over the bar, they were not finding space or time in midfield.
The home side were laying siege to the Atletico goal and Messi drew a full length save from Jan Oblak, before Suarez finally leveled the score on 62 minutes after diverting home Jordi Alba’ s misplaced shot.
Suarez scored Barca’s second 16 minutes from time with a brilliant header from Dani Alves’ cross as Barca kept their foot on the accelerator, prompting Simeone to introduce Thomas Teye for Antoine Griezmann.
Rafinha came on for Barca for his first appearance since injuring his knee in six months as Barca looked to retain their pressure in the closing minutes.