Messi Hat-Trick Sees Barcelona Past Atletico Madrid

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    FooSe
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    Messi Hat-Trick Sees Barcelona Past Atletico Madrid

    Post by FooSe on Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:09 pm

    FC Barcelona are within touching distance of the last eight of the Copa del Rey after taking a 3-1 away lead against Atletico Madrid, courtesy of a Lionel Messi hat-trick...

    Atletico Madrid 1-3 FC Barcelona

    A lacklustre Atlético was bested by a superb Barcelona, headed by a brilliantly clinical Lionel Messi who used the match as a platform to make his case as the world’s best player. Barça take a 1-3 result to the Camp Nou in a tie that seems all but decided in favour of the insuperable azulgrana.

    Revenge Without Any Vengeance

    Plenty of hype surrounded the Copa del Rey encounter between an Atlético de Madrid eager for revenge and a Barcelona that sits comfortably atop La Liga. The last time Atlético and Barça met, los colchoneros were ripped apart at the Camp Nou in a 6-1 loss that was over by the 10th minute when Messi slotted home a brilliantly-taken free kick to make it 3-0.

    Coming to the Vicente Calderón without such stars as Eto’o, Puyol, and Xavi, the Barça starting line-up still featured a threatening Pinto; Dani Alves, Cáceres, Piqué, Sylvinho; Busquets, Touré Yayá, Keita; Iniesta, Messi, and Bojan, while Atlético would come out with Coupet; Seitaridis, Perea, Heitinga, Pernía; Paulo Assunçao, Maniche, Maxi, Simao; Sinama Pongolle and Forlán (Kun Aguero, who was ruled out with pharyngitis, the notable omission from the squad).

    From the first minute, the tension in Madrid was palpable as the near-capacity Calderón rained whistles down on the pitch during the first azulgrana possession. A quick steal and through ball put Sinama Pongolle in on goal, but Pinto was quick off his line to snuff out the first chance of the match. Maniche would test the Catalan keeper in the next minute, but his shot lacked any real venom and Pinto dealt with it easily.

    The chilly Madrid night began to heat up nicely though in the 8th minute with a golden chance for Barça as Atlético keeper, Coupet stretched to save a hard shot from Keita off of a Barcelona corner.

    The sides continued to feel each other out, working hard for position in midfield. The breakthrough would come in the 12th minute as a quick one-two between Alves and Messi would put Messi cleanly through on goal. As is wont this season, the cool-headed Messidona casually slid the ball past Coupet’s near post for a sublime goal. 0-1, Barcelona.

    Having barely broken a sweat, Barcelona already held a one-goal advantage in the first leg and seemed to be playing very comfortably in the hostile cauldron of the Calderón. Atlético would take out their frustration with a hard foul by Sinama Pongolle on Messi. Referee, Itturalde González mistakenly gave the yellow card to Assunçao, leaving the Spanish football federation with some correcting to do, but in the meantime, the Brazilian would be forced to play the rest of the match with a warning.

    Atlético began to threaten again in the 26th minute when a deft flick from Forlán put Sinama Pongolle in on goal, but the linesman would raise his flag for a contentious offside call. A minute later Maniche would latch onto a loose ball near the area and rifle a rasping shot, but a stretching save from Pinto and the ball was pushed wide of the post. It would be Atlético’s best chance of the first half.

    The match would fall back into a lackadaisical pace, rare for a cup-tie between two of Spain’s major sides, and the rojiblanco fans would begin to whistle their displeasure with their side’s lack of any real urgency. The whistles would gain wind as Dani Alves whipped in a dangerous cross and Seydou Keita was left ruing a golden opportunity to go up by two in the 36th minute. The frustration began to show for Atlético as both Simao, Maniche, and Pernia would pick up yellow cards for fouls on Messi, Iniesta, and Alves, respectively. Maniche was especially lucky not to be shown a straight red for his malicious hack on Iniesta.

    The halftime whistle was echoed by the fans as the entire stadium would send los colchoneros into the locker room to ruminate on a disappointing first 45 minutes.

    The second half would see the match resume as chilly a pace as the Madrid night, as Barcelona would link up better passes but neither side would threaten. In the 50th minute, Assunçao would pick up a yellow card but, luckily for the Brazilian, halftime break had seen the mistaken yellow of the first half correctly awarded to Sinama Pongolle.

    The whistles would fill the stadium as things would get worse for Atlético in the 55th minute when an Alves cross seeking Messi would see the Argentine star tripped from behind by Heitinga. A straight red card for the Dutch international and a penalty awarded to La Pulga. From the penalty spot, Messi would be lethal, sending Coupet right and coolly slotting the ball to the French keeper’s left. 0-2 Barça, and two more goals under the little Argentine’s tally.

    On the restart, Atlético would try to reply quickly, but a through ball for Forlán found the Uruguayan offside by a few yards. Aguirre promptly shuffled his deck, taking out Sinama Pongolle and Assunçao in favour of Ujfalusi and Ever Banega. At the other end of the pitch, another crunching tackle in the area, this time on Bojan, should have seen another penalty and possible red card, but Itturalde González inexplicably kept his whistle silent.

    Atlético were finally (and rather undeservedly) able to answer in the 58th minute as Ujfalusi rose higher than the rest to meet a Simao corner and bring the match to a 1-2 scoreline. The goal scored as a tonic for Atlético, injecting some life into the Madrid side. Barça almost took the breath right out of the stadium when Bojan lifted a ball through to Iniesta whose chipped shot would end up in the back of the net, but a hair saw the Spanish international ruled offside.

    The 78th minute would see the match explode in a flurry of action. Maxi was put onto goal by Simao, but Pinto was fortunate to save the shot to the back post. Seconds later, Messi beat two Atlético defenders but his shot would clang off the crossbar. Ruing his missed chance, the Argentine would atone in the 80th minute when Messi received the ball in the area, dribble past Coupet and claim his hat trick. 1-3, Barcelona. Barça manager Pep Guardiola would substitute the celestial Albiceleste in the next minute for Pedro, and in a wonderful sign of respect for (without question) the world’s best player, the Atlético crowd bid farewell to the phenom with a standing ovation.

    Atlético would try to win the favour of their fans when Simao would blast a shot toward to top corner, but, with his best save of the match, Pinto would stretch to deny the Portuguese winger in a microcosm of how the night went for the Atleti.

    Final result: Atlético 1-3 Messi

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