By FRANCO PANIZO
It took five games, but at long last there has been a victor between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
After playing to a 1-1 draw on four separate occasions earlier this season, Atletico Madrid eliminated Barcelona from the UEFA Champions League and advanced to the semifinals of the competition for the first time on Thursday with a 1-0 win that gave them a 2-1 advantage on aggregate.
Koke scored the decisive goal in the fifth minute of the second leg at Vicente Calderon, but Atletico could have put the game away in the first half had they been a little sharper or luckier in front of goal. Three shots hit the woodwork and a few other chances were wasted, giving Barcelona a chance to pull level in the series.
Barcelona were not able to do so, however. They came closest to finding the back of the net on a Leo Messi header in the first half, but he somehow hit the ball wide despite finding himself all alone in the box following a cross from the flank.
Atletico will now play in the final four of Europe’s premier club tournament for the first time in 40 years. They reached the European Cup final back in 1974.
In the other quarterfinals tilt on Wednesday, Manchester United took a lead before Bayern Munich fought back to pick up a 3-1 win that gave the German club a 4-2 victory on aggregate.
Having played to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last week, United jumped out to a lead on aggregate when Patrice Evra scored the game’s opener in the 57th minute. The celebration for David Moyes and the Red Devils was short-lived, though.
Mario Mandzukic pulled the hosts level two minutes after Evra scored, and Bayern Munich then found the back of the net twice more to further United’s misery. Thomas Muller scored the go-ahead goal in the 68th minute and Arjen Robben added another eight minutes later for the reigning UEFA Champions League winners.
Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid now join Real Madrid and Chelsea as the four semifinalists in this season’s competition.
What do you think of Atletico eliminating Barcelona? Is this loss the end of the lines for Moyes at Man Utd? Which of the four remaining clubs do you think will win it all?
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