Barcelona will take a 2-1 lead to the Vicente Calderon in just eight days time as a second half Luis Suarez double cancelled out a first half Fernando Torres strike to take the spoils at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night. Torres, who scored on 25 minutes, was sent off for a second bookable offence just 10 minutes later, as he saw himself turn from hero to villain and left his side clinging for dear life for most of the game.
Atletico struck first when Koke put Torres through on 25 minutes before El Nino struck a beautiful shot under the helpless Marc Andre Ter Stegen. At that point, it had all the hallmarks of a smash-and-grab as Atletico looked content to sit back and take what Barcelona would give them as opposed to pushing themselves onto the game.
That changed drastically on 35 minutes when Torres caught Sergio Busquets with a rash, late and ultimately costly tackle that downed the Spanish midfielder. Felix Brych, never one to reject the opportunity to pull out his cards, did not hesitate to issue Torres with his second booking having picked up an earlier one just six minutes earlier.
Barcelona came out with some severe intentions in the second half and cut Atletico open a couple of times, this happening despite the fact that Atletico were defineding deep and often with all ten of their men tucked deep into their own half.
It would take a mishit volley by Jordi Alba on 63 minutes that fell at Luis Suarez' feet, who did well to adjust his feet and direct the ball beyond Jan Oblak, to break Atletico's resistance. An exhausted Atletico looked as good as spent at this stage and there was a sense that it was only a matter of time before Barcelona struck again.
Just 11 minutes later, a sumptuous move involving Neymar and Suarez resulted in the Uruguayan hearing powerfully beyond Oblak to push Barcelona ahead on the night and in the tie. The Camp Nou breathed a collective sigh of relief and it seemed the players did too as the intensity and pressure Atletico had been under seemed to subside. They still pressed but appeared somewhat content with their nights work having suffered a painful loss on Saturday night in El Clasico.
Atletico received eight yellow cards on the night and will need to keep their composure during the return leg at the Vicente Calderon if they have any hope of keeping Barca's potent attacking force at bay. Simeone will be disappointed with the lack of discipline, perhaps, but without Torres' away goal, the game could have been out of sight before Barcelona boarded the plane to travel to the capital in just eight days time.