10th January, 2020
Barcelona seems to be getting used to a very negative trend in football these days – losing games after being ahead for a good duration – something that was nearly impossible in their good old days.
Remember the Roma and Liverpool debacle in the Champions League in recent times? Well, that “ghost” seems to still be haunting the team.
Angel Correa scored in the final minutes to earn Atletico Madrid a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Barcelona in the semifinals of the Supercopa de Espana on Thursday night at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
After a scoreless first half, the second stanza was full of fireworks, with three lead changes and two disallowed goals. Koke scored just moments after entering the pitch, but goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann had Barcelona in control.
Atletico would keep their cool, though, and an Alvaro Morata penalty conversion minutes before Correa’s late strike earned the Colchoneros a date in Sunday’s Final against city rivals Real Madrid.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde brought in Neto to play in goal, while Samuel Umtiti started ahead of Clement Lenglet at centre-back and Arturo Vidal got the nod in midfield over Ivan Rakitic.
On the other side for Atletico manager Diego Simeone, Stefan Savic returned from his long-term to start in defence after Jose Maria Gimenez was sidelined with a minor injury, while the recently recuperated Koke started on the bench.
It was a partisan crowd in favour of Barcelona and the noise level went up any time Messi was on the ball. They were nearly sent into delirium midway through the first half after a slick one-two combination with Jordi Alba, but Messi’s shot was blocked by Atletico goalkeeper Jab Oblak.
Oblak was called into action again toward the end of the half when an Atletico giveaway led to a Barcelona break and the Slovenian stopper came up big to deny former teammate Antoine Griezmann.
Simeone was the only coach to make a change at the half, bringing on Koke for Hector Herrera and it could not have worked out better as just seconds after stepping on the pitch, Koke had the ball in the back of the net for a 0-1 Atletico lead after good work from Joao Felix and Angel Correa.
The response from Barcelona was immediate and the fans got what they wanted, which was a cracking goal from Messi, who muscled past Savic and Koke before firing in the 1-1 equaliser with his weaker right foot.
Messi thought he had struck for his second of the night, but VAR ruled that the ball had struck the arm of the Argentine prior to his shot. However, minutes later Barcelona would snag the go-ahead goal when Oblak’s reaction save from a Suarez header spun up into the air and right to Griezmann, who calmly nodded in a header of his own to make it 2-1.
Simeone made his second change in hopes of an offensive spark as Vitolo came on Lodi, followed later by substitute Koke leaving with an apparent injury and replaced by Marcos Llorente.
Barcelona had another goal disallowed by VAR, which ruled that Vidal was offside when he received a pass from Messi before crossing to Gerard Pique, and Atletico took advantage by winning a penalty when Neto took down Vitolo in the area. Morata stepped up and coolly converted the spot kick to even it up at 2-2.
The Barcelona defence had not exactly been exuding confidence in the second half and their error-prone ways would prove fatal as a Pique giveaway led to a quick break that Correa finished off with a shot that Neto partially blocked, only to see the ball spin into goal for a 3-2 Atletico lead.
Valverde turned to Ansu Fati to try to help get back on level terms, but Atletico nailed things down to punch their ticket to Sunday’s final.