Atlético Madrid squeezed into the Champions League semifinals with a narrow 1-0 win over Barcelona at the Vicente Calderón on Wednesday. Koke's goal was enough to see Atléti side past their La Liga rivals 2-1 on aggregate, with the Rojiblancos hanging onto a narrow advantage after storming into an early lead.
It took only five minutes for Atléti to find the game's only goal, with Diego Simeone's side rewarded for their phenomenally high-tempo start. Adrián was sent through on goal and cracked the ball against José Pinto's post, only to nod the ensuing cross down for Koke to tap in from close range.
Barça looked wholly overwhelmed by their hosts' raucous opening, with goalkeeper Pinto just about scrambling the ball away after hesitating in his own penalty area within four minutes of the opener. David Villa proceeded to twice rattle the crossbar before the 20-minute mark, with Barça's only chance being a glancing header by Lionel Messi which flashed past Thibaut Courtois' post.
The visitors somehow managed to weather the remainder of the early storm and settle into their usual rhythm, driving Atléti back toward their own goal. But for all of their possession, Barça struggled to create any chances, and were still very vulnerable on the counterattack. They could've easily been two -- or five -- down when Atléti striker Adrián was denied a penalty on the stroke of halftime.
But while they still were only a goal in arrears, Barça were still very much in the tie. At the break, they still had 45 minutes to punish Atléti's missed chances. They very almost did within minutes of the restart, with only a super stop from Courtois denying Neymar an equaliser after he was threaded through on goal by Xavi.
Xavi found himself on the end of Barça's next opportunity, heading Dani Alves' cross wide from inside the box. Atléti responded with a couple of excellent chances to kill the game, with substitute Diego breaking into the box to force a diving stop from Pinto, shortly before Gabi tamely squandered a one-on-one.
The visitors continued to probe, with Neymar making an excellent run across the box to glance Sánchez's cross just wide inside the final quarter of an hour. But despite their string of second half chances, Barça couldn't find the crucial equalizing goal. They were lucky to not have conceded a second in the dying moments, with Rodríguez denied by Pinto from point-blank range. On the balance of play, Barça can have few complaints about the final score.
Atlético Madrid: Courtois; Filipe Luis, Godín, Miranda, Juanfran; Koke, Tiago, Gabi, García; Adrián (Diego 62'), Villa (Rodríguez 79').
Goals: Koke (5').
Barcelona: Pinto; Alba, Mascherano, Bartra, Alves; Fàbregas (Sánchez 61'), Busquets, Xavi; Iniesta (Pedro 72'), Messi, Neymar.