Neymar rescues Barca from defeat vs Atletico

TIM HANLON
Last updated 09:55 02/04/2014
Neymar

TO THE RESCUE: Barcelona's Neymar celebrates.

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An exquisite goal from Neymar rescued a 1-1 draw for Barcelona after substitute Diego had given La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid the lead in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

A stunning 35-metre strike from Diego put Atletico in the driving seat after 56 minutes at the Nou Camp but Barcelona, aiming for their seventh successive semi-final appearance, hit back with a bending effort from Neymar 15 minutes later.

Atletico lost their talisman in attack, Diego Costa, to injury early on and still had the better chances in the first half through David Villa.

It has been a remarkable season for La Liga leaders Atletico and they showed typical resistance before Barca found a way through when Andres Iniesta played in Neymar and he curled the ball round keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Pinto was the only change to the Barca side that defeated Manchester City in the previous round, coming in for injured keeper Victor Valdes, and he put them in trouble in the opening minutes.

His clearance went straight to Arda Turan and he found Barca old boy Villa who fired wide in front of goal.

It got worse for the home side when centre half Gerard Pique went off with a back problem after coming off worse in a challenge with Costa.

The hosts gradually worked their way more and more into the game and an Iniesta strike was blocked by Diego Godin before Costa had to leave the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Lionel Messi had a header comfortably saved by Courtois and Neymar shot over the bar but Atletico finished the first half stronger and this time Pinto came to the home team's rescue, diving to deny Villa inside the area.

Diego's shot from distance sparked Barca into action and their pressure finally paid off with Neymar's spectacular strike.  

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- Reuters

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