'We are alive': Atletico boss Simeone after Barcelona loss

AP , Wednesday 6 Apr 2016

Diego Simeone
Atletico Madrid's Argentinian coach Diego Simeone looks on before UEFA Champions League quarter finals first leg football match FC Barcelona vs Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 5, 2016 (AFP)

Luis Suarez scored two second-half goals to lead Barcelona to a 2-1 comeback victory over 10-man Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday.

Fernando Torres opened the scoring in the 25th minute, but quickly went from hero to villain for Atletico when two reckless tackles saw him sent off in the 35th.

Atletico resisted the defending champion's push for an equalizer until Suarez finally leveled with an opportunistic goal in the 63rd.

Suarez then put Barcelona ahead in the 74th when he played Dani Alves wide before sending the Brazil defender's cross past goalkeeper Jan Oblak with an unstoppable header.

"Torres's red card was crucial because everyone knows about the quality he has," Suarez said after scoring his team-high seventh and eight goals in the Champions League this season.

"It was a shame because it would have been great to come back against 11 players. The most important thing is that we won and they will have to score in the Calderon."

Also on Tuesday, Bayern Munich edged Benfica 1-0 in their quarterfinal first leg.

Barcelona's fightback comes three days after Real Madrid ended Barcelona's Spanish record 39-match unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win at Camp Nou.

Besides recovering its winning ways after the disappointing "clasico" defeat, Luis Enrique's side avenged its exit at the hands of Atletico from the 2013-14 quarterfinals with its club-record 11th consecutive home win in the competition.

Suarez took his overall haul to 45 goals this season, as he and strike partners Lionel Messi and Neymar recovered their dominant form after underwhelming against Real.

But at full strength, Atletico's disciplined defense, which had Diego Godin back in the middle after an injury layoff, disrupted Barcelona's attack, a promising sign that coach Diego Simeone can take into the second leg in addition to the away goal.

"We are alive," said Simeone, who added that he had to cool down after the match to avoid criticizing the referee for sending off Torres.

"They had the chance to get another goal, but they couldn't manage it. That will get our fans fired up for the second match in Madrid."

Again, the clash of styles between the high-flying Barcelona and gritty Atletico produced another entertaining chapter in a growing rivalry between the Spanish clubs.

After a pair of shots from Messi that sailed well wide, Barcelona got its first good chance almost 20 minutes in when Neymar's header just missed the bar after Dani Alves found him with a cross in the area.

Atletico had been content to absorb Barcelona's attacks until Antoine Griezmann got its first shot. While his effort was off-target, Torres didn't miss a minute later to continue his great scoring record against Barceona.

Gabi Fernandez led Atletico forward by passing to Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion, who in turn slipped a through ball to meet Torres's run. The striker did the rest by sending a first-time shot between the legs of keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his 11th goal in 15 matches against Barcelona.

The goal unsettled Barcelona and Griezmann almost added another, only for Ter Stegen to redeem himself with a spectacular dive to paw his volley past his post.

Charged with being Atletico's first line of defense, an over-eager Torres had picked up a booking for a foul on Neymar in the 29th, and a second clumsy tackle on Sergio Busquets earned him another yellow just minutes later.

Atletico succeeded in hunkering down without much trouble until the action picked up after halftime.

The visitors had the first threat through Felipe Luis' header, but after surviving the scare, Barcelona picked up the pace of its passing and hemmed Atletico into its box.

Messi almost struck with an acrobatic bicycle kick before Neymar fired the ball against the bar in the 51st. Seeing his team in trouble, Simeone sent on midfielder Augusto Fernandez for Yannick Carrasco. Even so, moments later Messi found the angle to force Oblak to make his first tough save.

With Atletico struggling to keep up, Suarez finally undid Atletico when he was in position to turn in Jordi Alba's errant shot.

Barcelona continued to press and Suarez was both playmaker and finisher for the winning goal when he spotted Dani Alves free on the right wing before moving forward to thump in his pass.

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