Barcelona - An exquisite goal from Neymar has rescued a 1-1 draw for Barcelona after substitute Diego had given La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid the lead in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.
stunning 35-metre strike from Diego put Atletico in the driving seat
after 56 minutes at the Nou Camp but Barcelona, aiming for their seventh
successive semi-final appearance, hit back with a bending effort from
Neymar 15 minutes later.
"We are satisfied because I think we
played a good match," Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois told Spanish
broadcaster TVE. "We scored a brilliant goal through Diego and then we
defended very well.
"A 1-1 draw is a good result and at the
Calderon I think anything is possible. With our fans behind us it's like
having an extra player and hopefully we can put on a good performance."
lost their talisman in attack, Diego Costa, to injury early on and
still had the better chances in the first half through David Villa.
has been a remarkable season for La Liga leaders Atletico and they
showed typical resistance before Barca found a way through when Andres
Iniesta played in Neymar and he curled the ball round Courtois from a
Pinto was the only change to the Barca side that
defeated Manchester City in the previous round, coming in for injured
keeper Victor Valdes, and he put them in trouble in the opening minutes.
His clearance went straight to Arda Turan and he found Barca old boy Villa who fired wide in front of goal.
got worse for the home side when centre half Gerard Pique went off with
a back problem after coming off worse in a challenge with Costa.
hosts gradually worked their way more and more into the game and an
Iniesta strike was blocked by Diego Godin before Costa had to leave the
field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
had a header comfortably saved by Courtois and Neymar shot over the bar
but Atletico finished the first half stronger and this time Pinto came
to the home team's rescue, diving to deny Villa inside the area.
Diego's shot from distance sparked Barca into action and their pressure finally paid off with Neymar's spectacular strike.
game was what we were expecting with a very intense Atletico team,"
said Barca captain Xavi. "We had our chances to score and it was a shame
they scored that fantastic goal.
"Barca deserved to win. We had
more scoring chances but they work very hard in defence and it was very
difficult for us to find a way through."