Atlético Madrid breaks through, sends Barcelona out of Champions League

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For the first time in seven years, Barcelona will not be among the last four teams standing in UEFA Champions League. After Koke’s early goal stood up at the Vicente Calderón, Atlético Madrid is through to its first semifinal in 40 years, with the team’s 1-0 (2-1, aggregate) win escorting the three-time champions out of the tournament.

Atlético struck first during a dominant opening spell, with a slew of chances near the five-minute-mark allowing Koke to blast home the game’s only goal. Though the Spanish leaders produced a series of close calls on both sides of halftime, they were made to defend their 1-0 lead to the final whistle, eventually producing their first win of the season over Barcelona.

Between La Liga, Spanish Super Cup, and Champions League, the teams had faced each other four previous times this season, with each match ending in a draw. Last week’s game in Barcelona saw Atlético take a 1-1 result out of the Nou Camp, with the away goal potentially looming large in today’s second leg.

Thanks to Koke’s opener, however, Atlético didn’t need to rely on its tiebreaker edge. Finally breaking through against last year’s Spanish champions, a team that hasn’t been to the finals since 1974 is one step closer to another shot. Diego Simeone’s team joins Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and rival Real Madrid in Europe’s final four.

An overwhelming opening 12 minutes put Atlético on the scoresheet early. Unable to deal with the hosts’ high pressure, Barcelona gave up a series of chances in the fifth minute, with a sequence that started with an Adrían López shot off the right post ending with Koke slamming the opener into an empty net. In a spell where Atleti had three chances, the final one was the charm. For the third time in five meetings, Atlético struck first against Barcelona.

Throughout the first half, Simeone’s side had a number of chances to take its first two-goal lead over Barcelona this year. Moments after the opener, Atlético’s pressure produced another opportunity, with David Villa’s shot going out for a corner after Dani Alves’ desperate block. In the 12th minute, a Villa blast from the left hit the near post, while another chance for the former Barcelona striker nailed the cross-bar in the 21st minute.

source: AP
Lionel Messi had three chances to get Barcelona on the scoreboard but extended his scoreless drought to six games against Atlético Madrid. (Photo credit: AP Photo.)

By that time, Barcelona had come into the match, adjusting to Atlético’s pressure to maintain two-thirds of the half’s possession. Chances were still difficult to come by, however, even if the best opportunities fell to the team’s danger man. Shortly after Villa’s first shot off the post, Messi was given a free header from near the Atlético penalty spot, but he was unable to steer the Alves cross on goal. Later in the half, after Neymar beat two players down the left, a ball sent across the top of the six couldn’t be put on target, with Messi pushing his shot wide of the near post.

At the beginning of the second, Barcelona started looking more like their normal selves, proving more purposeful with its possession in the half’s opening moments.  In the 48th minute, a perfectly weighted Xavi Hernández through ball tested Atlético goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, with the Belgian charging off his line to get a left hand to the ball as Neymar tried to touch it into space. Moments later, as a recovering Courtois stumbled near his line, a ball falling to Messi was volleyed over the bar, with Barcelona’s biggest star missing another chance to bring his side level.

The close call served as a wake up call for Atlético, who kept Barcelona without any meaningful chances over the next 15 minutes. Once the game began opening up, it was the home side who proved more threatening. Substitute Diego blasted a chance from a sharp angle into Pinto’s gloves in the 65th minute. Gabi failed to convert a breakaway created by Villa in the 71st minute, weakly hitting a shot into Pinto’s boots. Javier Mascherano was fortunate not to draw Howard Webb’s whistle while playing catchup on Villa in the 72nd. Just as in the first half, Atlético was collecting a serious of misses that would only heighten the heartbreak, should Barcelona come back.

Even as Atlético started to recede further into its own half, it was still producing the better chances. New full-time, substitute Cristian Rodríguez was sent in on down through the left of the penalty area only to put another shot off Pinto’s gloves. Moments later, pressure on the Barcelona keeper saw Víctor Valdés’ backup send a ball back across this empty goal. Though Barcelona was pursuing an equalizer, it was Atlético that was applying the pressure.

Come full time, a matchup that had been gloriously even through 360 minutes finally had a decisive winner. With an early goal and tests of ever part of Pinto’s goal, Atlético was clearly the better side, leaving both sides no doubts as to who deserved a spot in the Champions League semifinals.

Stoke City 1-2 Bournemouth: Cherries secure huge road win

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  • Surman, Stanislas put Bournemouth ahead
  • Stoke have only won one of their last 8 games in all comps
  • Diouf’s goal not enough for a point

Bournemouth beat Stoke City 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday as the Cherries secured their first away win of the season.

Early goals from Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas was enough to grab Bournemouth all three points as Mame Biram Diouf’s goal in the second half wasn’t enough to launch a Stoke comeback.

With the defeat Stoke slip into the bottom with Bournemouth.

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Bournemouth got off to the best possible start as Stanislas set up Surman who fired home to make it 1-0 after 15 minutes.

Three minutes later after it was 2-0 as Stanislas slammed home a penalty kick following Benik Afobe being hacked down in the box.

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Stoke struggled to recover after that awful start but they did grab a goal midway through the second half.

Diouf made it 2-1 with just 17 minutes gone in the second half as a long ball forward caused havoc in the box with Choupo-Mouting knocking it down for Diouf to finish.

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Stoke threw plenty of long balls at Bournemouth late on but the Cherries held on for a crucial three points to leave Stoke in plenty of trouble.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Afobe and others came close to sealing the win late on for Bournemouth with Stoke pushing forward but the Cherries were well worth their victory.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United: Monumental win!

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  • Town’s first win over United since 1952
  • Mooy, Depoitre score
  • Rashford pulls one back
  • United’s first PL loss

Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored to give Huddersfield Town its first win over Manchester United in 65 years, a 2-1 win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back for United, which has lost its first PL match of the season and drops five points behind Man City.

Town leaps 10th, with 12 points.

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Anthony Martial collected an early yellow card for United, and a clever move from Tom Ince to Steve Mounie called up Red Devils backstop David De Gea for his first collection of the match.

And Mooy put Town a head when he played Ince in for a shot, then put the rebound behind De Gea.

The keeper wouldn’t be relieved when a Jonas Lossl goal kick sailed over Victor Lindelof‘s jumping intervention, and Depoitretw danced around De Gea to make it 2-0.

Nemanja Matic‘s stoppage time effort through traffic almost pulled one back for United, but Town dealt with a corner kick to get to the break unscathed.

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But how many have?

Rashford lifted the hopes of the visitors with a goal with just under 15 minutes to play.

WATCH LIVE: Southampton vs. West Brom

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Southampton and West Brom seek three points which would move them into the top half of the Premier League table when they meet Sunday at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

As a bonus, Joe Prince-Wright is on the scene to give you a “proper match day experience” from the run-up to the final whistle at St. Mary’s.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Forster, Cedric, Van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand, Lemina, Romeu, Davis, Tadic, Long, Gabbiadini. Subs: McCarthy, Hoedt, McQueen, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Redmond, Austin.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Gibbs, Hegazi, Evans, Dawson, Livermore, Krychowiak, Chadli, Barry, Rodriguez, Rondon. Subs:

Matchday experience: Behind-the-scenes at Southampton

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What is a proper “matchday experience” really like in the Premier League?

For fans of the Premier League in the USA, you’ll no doubt be curious as to exactly what goes on over in the UK around every single game.

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And for all of you who have ever wondered what it’s like, good news: we have a complete 360 experience lined up for Southampton vs. West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

We will be on site at Southampton to give you special access at St Mary’s Stadium before, during and after the game.

You will not want to miss this.

Make sure to follow Joe Prince-Wright’s journey behind-the-scenes by checking out the updated videos below as he spends time in pubs in the South Coast city before the game, joins the fans in the stands and will be closer to the action than ever before in the tunnel area and up close and personal with players.