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Atletico and Bayern through to Champions League semi-finals

© Afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-10

Atletico Madrid on Wednesday eliminated Spanish rivals Barcelona to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 40 years, with an early goal by midfielder Koke handing the team a 1-0 win and a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Atletico Madrid's resurgence comes just a year after they were forced to sell leading scorer Radamel Falcao.

Defending champions Bayern Munich also reached the final four, beating Manchester United 3-1 to go through 4-2 on aggregate.

The teams join United's Premier League rivals Chelsea – who beat Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday – and Atletico's city rivals Real, victors over last season's beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund, in Friday's draw.

Atletico last beat Barcelona four years ago and came roaring out of the blocks to get the only goal of the game through Jorge Resurrección Merodio, or Koke, in the fifth minute.

It was Koke’s first goal in this season's tournament.

No goal action for Messi

Atletico, who are also top of La Liga in a three-way battle with Barca and Real, could have been 3-0 up after fifteen minutes as former Barcelona striker David Villa hit the woodwork on two occasions.

Barcelona were largely contained by Atletico and star player Lionel Messi had an especially torrid night as he failed to score against Atletico for the sixth successive game.

For Atletico coach Diego Simeone, it was another significant victory. Last year, the club sold star player Falcao for 60 million euros in order to pay off debts estimated to be anywhere from 170 to 300 million euros.

"We maintain the same humility. We understand that the other teams (in the semi-finals) have been there far more than Atletico Madrid," Simeone said.

"We are there 40 years later and we believe in what we are doing."

For 22-year-old Koke, who made his senior debut aged just 17, it was an especially emotional night.

"The team were spectacular in this game," he said. "This team has no limits and we must keep on making the fans dream."

While Bayern dominated possession it was United who took the lead through a spectacular long range effort from French fullback Patrice Evra.

However, their joy was not to last long as Bayern went down the other end and Mario Mandzukic headed for an equaliser.

Further goals from Thomas Mueller and Arjen Robben ensured their place in the last four.

"The first ten minutes after the break were a catastrophe for us as they took the lead," said Robben.

"It was important that we got the equaliser quickly, now we have just one more opponent before the Lisbon final."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-04-09

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