Antoine Griezmann struck in each half to give Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon and a glorious 3-2 aggregate success over their Spanish rival in a frantic Champions League quarter-final second leg.
Griezmann made the difference with a header on 36 minutes and a late penalty on 88 minutes, but Barca will rue the decision by the Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli to award a free-kick instead of a penalty when Gabi clearly handled a Andres Iniesta shot inside his box in time added with the visitors chasing a goal to force to the tie to extra-time.
Barca were instead awarded a free-kick which Lionel Messi lifted over the bar as Luis Enrique’s side’s hopes of becoming the first club to win back-to-back Champions League trophies crashed and burned at the Vicente Calderon, the same venue where they lost in the last eight of the 2014 tournament.
In saying that, Atletico – who only enjoyed 28 percent of possession in sealing their place in the last four – will argue that Iniesta should not have been on the park after Rizzoli decided to only book the Spain midfielder when a red card looked the obvious choice after he denied a clear goal-scoring chance with a deliberate handball from a Filipe Luis pass that led to the Atletico penalty award.
Barca are on their worst run of form since Enrique took charge in August 2014, losing their last two games to Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, drawing with Villarreal and now this defeat to Atletico.
Barca’s lead at the top of La Liga over second-placed Atletico has been cut to three points, and they must regroup to ensure they do not blow the domestic league title in Spain a year after carrying off the treble.