Luis Saurez’s secodn half double strike ensured Barcelona were not condemned to two successive defeats as they came from behind to beat local rivals Atletico Madrid 2-1 at Camp Nou in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter finals first leg clash.
Torres netted mid-way through the first half after a bright Barca start was undone by the home defence collapsing, Gerard Pique stepping out to close down Koke, no one covering and El Nino getting a run on Dani Alves to meet Koke’s through ball.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea man didn’t last to half time as he was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards, the second of which came from a particularly brain-dead challenge.
Lionel Messi, who has scored more goals on Atlético than any other player, was held in check for the second straight game in his bid to score his 450th goal for FC Barcelona and his 500th overall (he has 50 for Argentina).
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was Barca’s only change from the Clasico defeat while Diego Godin and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco were fit to start for Atletico.
Messi had Barca’s first two half-sights of goal, a fierce drive from 20 yards and an attempt that missed by about that distance after Jordi Alba’s cross to the back post.
Neymar had a much more presentable chance from Alves’ right-wing cross, meeting it well with his head but putting it over, not even testing Jan Oblak. Moments later, Antoine Griezmann had Atleti’s first real shot on goal, not far wide of Ter Stegen’s post, and the goalkeeper had no chance moments later when Torres made the most of the yawning chasm in the centre of the Barca defence.
Torres and Koke received first half yellow cards for their attempts to stop Barca dribbles and counter-attacks, Atleti willing, indeed eager, to halt the hosts before they really got going. Torres paid for it just after the half-hour mark with a second booking of the game after going in late on Sergio Busquets.
Barcelona did have a few slight openings as the half came to a close and tempers settled down, but Atletico camped in front of their own goal, holding on for a first half lead.
After the break, it became strikingly clear that the match had morphed into cat-and-mouse football with Barcelona bearing its teeth and claws while Diego Simeone’s Atlético continually emerged nscathed.
But the home side had to wait until the 63rd minute for an equalizer. Neymar’s volley into the box met Luis Suárez who was there in the six yard area to divert it home for 1-1.
11 minutes later, Dani Alves’ perfect delivery into the area was met perfectly by Suárez who got a head to to it to give Barça the lead an the eventual winner.
The 2–1 victory — the third time in three games Barcelona have beaten Atlético by the same score this season, the other two coming in La Liga — gives the Catalans a slight advantage heading into next Wednesday’s return leg at the Vicente Calderón in the Spanish capital.
The win was also Barça’s 11th straight home win in the Champions League and keeps head coach Luis Enrique undefeated in the competition since joining Barcelona.