Antoine Griezmann, Saul lead Atletico Madrid past Barcelona
Atletico Madrid were outstanding as they outfought, outbattled and outclassed Barcelona to seal a 2-0 win (3-2 on aggregate) and advance to the semifinals of the Champions League thanks to a brilliant Antoine Griezmann double.
On a cold night at a bouncing Vicente Calderon, Diego Simeone's side stepped up and were counted as they ruined Barca's dream of a second-successive Treble and ensured the Spanish capital will have two representatives in the last four.
With Augusto Fernandez in for the suspended Fernando Torres, Atleti were more solid in midfield and they completely nullified the Catalan outfit's front three. Gabi fired over early on and from there on in the atmosphere was rocking.
They took a deserved lead as Griezmann slammed an unstoppable header into the top corner and from there it was advantage Atleti.
Barca huffed and puffed, but they were unable to blow the immovable house of Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez down. The home side sat tight and countered and eventually sealed the win after a late surge from Filipe Luis saw Andres Iniesta commit a handball in the area. Griezmann did the rest and the Calderon erupted. They believe they can win it, and who would bet against them?
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Jan Oblak, 7 -- The Slovenian stopper kept another clean sheet and truth be told, other than one smart stop from Luis Suarez, he had little to do. Oozes confidence and the backline rarely seem ruffled with him behind them.
DF Juanfran, 7 -- Was in the wars in the first leg and little changed on Wednesday night when he was on the receiving end of some tough treatment from the Barcelona wide men. Was solid in defence, albeit was unable to attack as much as he might have liked.
DF Diego Godin, 8 -- Solid as a rock. Put everything on the line for his side, won nearly all his personal battles, whether they came in the air or on the ground. Also got a black eye for his troubles. The emblem of this Atletico Madrid side, he is simply the best centre-back in world football.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 8 -- The young Frenchman put in his most impressive display in an Atleti shirt yet and helped keep Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez quiet -- no mean feat. Has improved immensely with a run in the first team and he repaid the confidence Simeone showed in him by handing him a start. Jose Maria Gimenez will have a job getting back in the side at this rate.
DF Filipe Luis, 8 -- The Brazilian was impeccable defensively, completely nullifying Messi's attacking output with relative ease. Going forwards he was a key player, linking up well with Yannick Carrasco and Koke. It was his bold run, stepover and pass that resulted in the penalty that put the icing on the cake for his side.
MF Saul, 9 -- The 21-year-old has enjoyed a stellar season in the Spanish capital, however Wednesday night's performance was perhaps the best of the lot. From a nominal position on the right-hand side he tucked into a compact midfield and was a force both in attack and defence. It was his sublime control, touch and technique to provide an inch-perfect cross for Griezmann to nod home the opener. He also hit the bar with a looping header. Must surely go to Euro 2016 with Spain.
MF Gabi, 8 -- The all-action man in the middle of the park. Given extra protection with the inclusion of Augusto, his pressing game helped suffocate Ivan Rakitic, Iniesta and co in the middle of the park. A real captain's display.
MF Augusto Fernandez, 7 -- While the Argentine was not heavily involved in his actions, his presence contributed enormously to the victory. The 30-year-old protected the back four, freeing Saul, Koke and Gabi to harry and hassle the visiting midfield and block the supply line to the front three.
MF Koke, 8 -- The midfielder is enjoying a great end to the season and is going from strength to strength. His set piece delivery was spot on and one powerful run and cutback almost resulted in a goal. A real star.
FW Yannick Carrasco, 8 -- The Belgian flyer was electric at times and stretched Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano on many an occasion. Could have won a penalty and tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen from distance. If he can improve his decision making, he will be a world-class player.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 9 -- Man of the match, the difference between the two sides, Los Colchoneros' hero once again. When his side need him, he invariably steps up to the plate and Wednesday night was no different. His first was a bullet header, while he held his nerve to fire home the late penalty and seal a historic comeback.
MF Thomas Partey, NR -- Brought on for Carrasco in the 74th minute to inject fresh legs into a tiring side.
MF Angel Correa, NR -- Replaced Griezman in stoppage time. Helped provide legs up top late on.
DF Stefan Savic, NR --On for Fernandez in stoppage time. Saw the game out and helped waste time.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.