Barcelona reach Copa del Rey semifinal

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Madrid, Jan 29: FC Barcelona booked their place in the semifinal of the King's Cup knockout competition in Spain after they beat their opponents 3-2.

While Barca were able to field the same side they played in their 1-0 first leg win, with Ter Stegen in goal and Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar leading the attack, Atletico were without suspended trip of Diego Godin and Koke, taking away power at the back and creativity in central midfield, reports Xinhua.

Barcelona reach Copa del Rey semifinal

The fans in the Vicente Calderon Stadium looked to compensate for those absences by turning up the atmosphere and it was a packed ground which welcomed both sides onto the pitch.

The atmosphere turned up to boiling point when Fernando Torres put Atletico ahead and levelled the aggregate score in the first minute of the game.

Atletico's joy lasted just eight minutes before Neymar leveled the score following a move including Barca's attacking trident.

That goal left Atletico needing to score twice and although Raul Garcia netted a penalty, which was given for a Javier Mascherano foul outside of the penalty area, Barca were soon level again after a Sergio Busquets header rebounded off Joao Miranda and into the Atletico goal.

Neymar made it 3-2 to Barca (4-2 on aggregate) seven minutes before the break after finishing a break involving Jordi Alba and Messi.

Atletico's task was made even harder after club captain Gabi Fernandez was sent off for an incident with Neymar as the players left the field at the end of the first half.

Atletico really should have been down to nine players shortly afterwards, but for some reason referee Gil Manzano thought Arda Turan's gesture in throwing his boot at an assistant referee only deserved a yellow card.

The gesture reflected Atletico's frustration on a night when apart from the opening eight minutes they always faced an uphill task to overturn Barca's first leg lead.

Although substitute Cani hit the crossbar, Atletico were finally reduced to nine when Mario Suarez was sent off for raking his studs down Messi's calf.

IANS

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