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Rediff.com  » Sports » From hero to villain: Suarez denied place in Cup final after pivotal role

From hero to villain: Suarez denied place in Cup final after pivotal role

Last updated on: February 08, 2017 15:46 IST

FC Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring the opening goal during their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg match against Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou in Barcelona on Tuesday

IMAGE: FC Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring the opening goal during their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg match against Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou in Barcelona on Tuesday. Photograph: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Luis Suarez was incredulous after being sent off in Barcelona's thrilling King's Cup semi-final second leg with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, ruling him out of the final in May after playing a pivotal role in getting his team there.

The Uruguayan scored two of Barca's three goals in the semi-final, firing them to a 2-1 win in the first leg with a tremendous solo run as well as hitting the opener in Tuesday's 1-1 draw.

Suarez was left livid when he was shown a second yellow card in the 90th minute for striking Atletico midfielder Koke in the face as he fought for an aerial ball.

"I'm laughing at that second yellow card, it's not even a foul," Suarez told Gol TV after being sent off for Barca for the first time since joining the club from Liverpool in 2014.

"I did absolutely nothing. I hope the club will appeal it. It's something which cannot be explained, and the referee couldn't give me any explanation, as always, but we're already accustomed to this."

Suarez was forced off with a hamstring injury in the second half of last year's Cup final, a 2-0 defeat of Sevilla, but will play no part at all in the May showpiece against either Celta Vigo or Alaves.

Defender Sergi Roberto, who was also sent off for a double booking, will also miss out.

"I agree we should appeal the decision but if you look at the past you will see that appeals have proved no good for us," Barca coach Luis Enrique told reporters.

"It frustrates me when players on my team miss finals, but at the end of the day it's something which happens in football. The referee felt that both Suarez and Roberto deserved two yellow cards."

Luis Suarez (right) is given marching orders by referee Jesus Gil Manzano

IMAGE: Luis Suarez (right) is given marching orders by referee Jesus Gil Manzano. Photograph: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The coach, who has lead Barca to the final of the King's Cup in each of his three seasons in charge, felt his side scarcely deserved to go through, with Atletico outplaying them for large parts of both games.

"It was tough and difficult, but we have to be very happy. Evidently not because of how we played, but because the team is continuing to make history," he added.

"We've made too many mistakes, we were pinned back and we didn't know how to get out. We didn't have quality when we were on the ball, but so much happened at the end that I will have to analyse the game properly. But we have to improve.

"We were suffering. I have to congratulate the fans.

"They will enjoy the final and we will try to win it."

The Uruguayan tapped in from close range in the 43rd minute after an inspired run and shot from Lionel Messi to deliver a sucker punch to Atletico, who had dominated the first half at the Nou Camp but failed to take their chances.

Kevin Gameiro blazed a penalty over the bar with 10 minutes remaining but the French striker still made for a tense finale by tapping in an Antoine Griezmann cross moments later.

Suarez was then sent off in the 90th minute for an elbow on Atletico midfielder Koke.

Lionel Messi and Stefan Savic battle for possession

IMAGE: Lionel Messi and Stefan Savic battle for possession. Photograph: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Atletico had five minutes of stoppage time to snatch a winner and force extra time, but Barca withstood the pressure.

"We had to suffer, so did our supporters, perhaps we didn't deserve to go through on this display but given what we've done in the Cup I think we're worthy finalists," the Barca coach said.

Atletico had not won at the Nou Camp in any competition since 2006 and had to take the initiative if they were to stand any chance of going through. They started the second leg as they had ended the first, putting Barca under intense pressure.

After a few forays into the hosts' area came to nothing, Carrasco cut inside and crashed a shot down Jasper Cillessen's throat which the Dutchman punched clear, while the goalkeeper later held a stinging header from Diego Godin.

Barca struggled to maintain possession and a Suarez shot into the side netting had been their only dangerous moment until Messi skipped clear on the break.

He held off four players and fired at Miguel Angel Moya, with Suarez pouncing on the rebound after the goalkeeper could only parry the shot.

Atletico looked beaten at the start of the second half but showed grit and determination to get back into the game, even after Griezmann had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside and Carrasco was sent off.

"Barca were only better than us in goals scored, although that's what counts the most in football," Atletico coach Diego Simeone told reporters.

"I leave here with a sensation of pride. We played the tie with passion which is what you should always do."

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