Champions League: Bayern, Atletico into semis; Barca, Man Utd out
Atletico Madrid's resurgence continued just a year after they were forced to sell leading scorer Radamel Falcao to reduce their huge debts as they eliminated Barcelona to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 40 years.Updated: Apr 10, 2014 17:35 IST
Atletico Madrid's resurgence continued just a year after they were forced to sell leading scorer Radamel Falcao to reduce their huge debts as they eliminated Barcelona to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 40 years.
A goal by Koke – who has been with the club since he was eight years old – saw them deservedly beat Barcelona 1-0 last night and progress 2-1 on aggregate and perhaps also register a changing of the guard at the top of Spanish and European football.
Bayern Munich — bidding to become the first team to successfully defend their title — also reached the last four beating Manchester United 3-1, to go through 4-2 on aggregate.
They join United's Premier League rivals Chelsea, who beat Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday, and Atletico's city rivals Real, victors over last season's beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund, in Friday's draw.
Atletico, who last beat Barcelona four years ago, came roaring out of the blocks and got the only goal of the game through Koke, his first in this season's tournament, in the fifth minute.
Atletico, who are also top of La Liga in a three way battle with Barca and Real, could have been 3-0 up after 15 minutes as former Barcelona striker David Villa hit the woodwork on two occasions.
Barcelona were largely contained by Atletico and star player Lionel Messi had an especially torrid night as he failed to score against Atletico for the sixth successive game.
For Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who last year was forced to sell Falcao for 60 million euros ($83 million), it was another significant victory.
"We maintain the same humility. We understand that the other teams (in the semi-finals) have been there far more than Atletico Madrid," said the 43-year-old, who was a bundle of energy on the touchline urging the crowd to raise the noise level and continually making the sign of the cross.
"We are there 40 years later and we believe in what we are doing."