Barcelona ousts nine-man Atletico Madrid in wild Copa del Rey affair
MADRID (AP) — Neymar scored twice to lead Barcelona past nine-man Atletico Madrid and into the Copa del Rey semifinals with a 3-2 victory that went from pulsating to unseemly at Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday.
Barcelona advanced 4-2 on aggregate to set up a meeting with Villarreal or Getafe.
Barcelona won the first leg 1-0, but Atletico's Fernando Torres needed just 39 seconds to score and set off an electric first half.
Lionel Messi started the first of two counterattacks for Neymar to strike right back in the ninth minute.
Atletico's Raul Garcia converted a penalty on the half-hour mark, but Miranda's own goal put Barcelona back in control before Neymar pounced again on another Messi-led break before halftime.
Atletico's self-destruction continued when Gabi Fernandez earned a second yellow at halftime following a scuffle between the teams. Arda Turan was fortunate three minutes after the restart to only receive a yellow for throwing his shoe at the line judge. Mario Suarez then was ejected in the 84th for his second booking.
Gabi said he got his second booking for arguing with the referee about a penalty appeal with the score level 2-2.
"I told the referee at halftime that (Jordi Alba's supposed handball) was a penalty and sending off, and (the referee) said I showed him a lack of respect," said Gabi. "It hurts for how I left my team. With 10 it was much more difficult for them."
After failing to beat Atletico in six meeting last year, when the Madrid team won the Spanish league and reached the Champions League final, first-year coach Luis Enrique has led Barcelona to three wins over Diego Simeone's side.
Torres stunned Barcelona with his early goal when Siqueira intercepted a long ball from Javier Mascherano and lobbed it forward. Torres skillfully controlled the ball, used one touch to open an angle around Mascherano before firing a long strike in off the post.
But Barcelona hit back from a blistering counterattack when Messi dribbled by Mario Suarez and passed for Luis Suarez, who in turn played Neymar free to beat goalkeeper Jan Oblak with an angled shot.
Playing without injured midfielder Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion and goal-scoring center back Diego Godin, Atletico looked to Siqueira and his partner on the opposite right side of the defense to trouble Barcelona.
Right back Juanfran Torres drew a foul by Mascherano that the referee judged inside the area but televised replays showed to be outside, allowing Garcia to score from the spot.
But the home crowd fell silent when Miranda directed Sergio Busquet's off-target header into his own net in the 38th.
Atletico clamored for another penalty when Antoine Griezmann volleyed Siqueira's cross into Alba's arm. But the referee was unmoved and seconds later Messi was crossing for Alba to knock the ball down for Neymar to coolly put past Oblak.
After the glut of goals and attractive back-and-forth action in the first half, the game suddenly descended into a series of ugly incidents.
Messi was booked for booting a ball into the stands. Then Torres and Neymar exchanged heated words as the teams left the pitch at halftime, an argument that sparked a shoving bout between several members of both benches.
Gabi sunk the hosts' chances with his sending off, and Turan almost followed his captain when his temper boiled over after a tackle left him without a shoe. With no foul call forthcoming, the Turkey midfielder angrily tossed his shoe over the head of the line judge.
The second half gave way to a rare sight: a Simeone-coached Atletico without any fight left in them, down three goals and finally two men.
Villarreal visits Getafe with a 1-0 lead on Thursday, while Espanyol visits Sevilla up 3-1. Athletic Bilbao also hosts Malaga after their scoreless draw.