MADRID: Barcelona’s season continued to unravel as the European title-holders were dethroned by Atletico Madrid in their quarter-final return leg in the Champions League.
The Catalans had won 2-1 at home but lost 2-0 in the Estadio Calderon in Madrid and thus 3-2 on aggregate. The same overall score saw Bayern Munich see off Benfica in the night’s other tie.
Atletico and Bayern thus join Real Madrid and Manchester City in Friday’s draw at the headquarters of European federation UEFA in Nyon.
Last week Atletico lost 2-1 in Barcelona but Antoine Griezmann headed home in the 36th minute to pull them level on aggregate and ahead on the away goals rule. Barcelona dominated the second half but created few chances and hard-battling Atletico broke away to extend their lead with a late penalty.
Griezmann struck again to send coach Diego Simone’s men into the last four of the Champions League for only the second time.
Barcelona, who have lost three of their last four games in all competitions, were fortunate that Andrea Iniesta was not sent off for the handball offence which conceded the penalty.
They were then out of luck when Atletico’s Gabi handled inside his own penalty box but the free kick was awarded outside and shot over the bar by off-colour Leo Messi. Had Messi scored then Barcelona would have taken the tie into extra time.
Benfica bow out
In Lisbon Benfica levelled the aggregate against Bayern through an early header from Raul Jimenez but Chilean Arturo Vidal thundered home a superb equaliser just before the interval.
Seven minutes after the break Thomas Muller steered in a nod-down from a corner, giving the 2013 Champions League winners a second away goal which proved far too much for manager Rui Vitoria’s side to claw back. Substitute Anderson Talisca’s free-kick gave the hosts hope, but it was too little too late as the game finished 2-2.
The hosts badly missed suspended top scorer Jonas and injured midfielder Nicolas Gaitan.