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Champions League Review: Barca Squeeze Past Atleti

torres-sent-offBarcelona will head to Madrid for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie holding a slender 2-1 lead after an enthralling first leg at the Nou Camp.

Barca’s run of six straight wins against Atletico Madrid looked in doubt when Fernando Torres put his side ahead in the 25th minute but a controversial red card for the striker soon after tilted the balance their way.

The sending off of Torres totally changed a game that Atletico had been dominating and is just the latest in a long list of red cards that have favored the home side at the Camp Nou in the Champions League. From the Thiago Motta sending off in 2010 to Robin van Persie’s dismissal in 2011 to Torres red card, Barca have certainly got the breaks from the officials.

As expected the two managers saw the two Torres bookings differently. Atletico manager Diego Simeone dismissed the referee’s decision, claiming he did not blame his striker.

“I’m not angry with Torres, for sure. It’s for you to find out [if it was fair],” said the Argentine manager, according to FourFourTwo.

“I’m not saying everything I want to say, that’s for sure. I’m trying to think about what to say about the game and the refereeing.”

Meanwhile, his opposite number Luis Enrique felt that it was a straightforward decision for the referee to make.

“Everyone from Barca saw clearly that they were two yellow cards, and all of Atletico haven’t,” said the Barcelona manager. “It’s typical and normal in this case. But it’s the referee who dictates what is or isn’t a card.

“I saw the expulsion like all the Catalan players, clearly. But maybe a bit simple.”

Even with the man-advantage Barcelona still had to break down a stubborn Rojiblancos defense, and it took two second half goals from Luis Suárez to give the holders the slim-lead heading into the second leg.

The challenge for Atletico now is to shut out Barca in the second leg as a 1-0 victory at home will see them advance. That is easier said then done because if Barca score, I cannot see Simeone’s side scoring twice at the Vicente Calderón Stadium.