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Rediff.com  » Sports » Clever Felix gives Barcelona home win over Atletico Madrid

Clever Felix gives Barcelona home win over Atletico Madrid

December 04, 2023 12:58 IST
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IMAGE: Barcelona's Raphinha in action with Atletico Madrid's Rodrigo Riquelme. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Barcelona's Joao Felix scored in the first half to secure a hard-fought 1-0 home win against his valiant parent club Atletico Madrid in a compelling LaLiga clash on Sunday.

The Portuguese, on loan at Barca after a bitter split with Diego Simeone's side, netted with a fine dinked finish over goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 28th minute and did not hold back in his goal-scoring celebrations with the jubilant home crowd.

 

"It was spontaneous. I was in the heat of the game and it was like a relief for everything I've been through this summer," Felix told Movistar Plus.

IMAGE: Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski in action with Atletico Madrid's Axel Witsel. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

"Only the people closest to me, my family mainly, know what I've been through. So the goal was dedicated to them. I couldn't believe (when the fans chanted his name). I know how great this club is and to have your name chanted is not something that happens to many. I'm delighted."

Barca moved above Atletico into third place on 34 points, four behind leaders Real Madrid and Girona. Atletico are fourth on 31 points with a game in hand.

Under pressure from the fans dissatisfied with Barcelona's form lately, Xavi Hernandez's team put on a show in the first-half, dominating the match and creating several chances.

HIGH PRESS

Barca started by pressing high and wasted a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the second minute when Raphinha was one-on-one against Oblak but fluffed his lines, striking wide of the far post from close range.

Robert Lewandowski had a chance blocked by the visiting defence two minutes later and missed a sitter from close range in the 12th minute of a high intensity match, with both sides pushing for the opener and getting exposed on the counter.

IMAGE: Barcelona's Joao Felix in action. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

That was how the hosts scored in the 28th minute when Pedri stole the ball and flashed a long pass to Jules Kounde bursting up the right and he crossed to Raphinha who saw Felix darting up the left channel against a disorganised defence.

The Brazilian played in Felix, who won a challenge against last man Jose Maria Gimenez to stay in front of Oblak and chipped the ball over the stranded keeper into the empty net.

Barca kept control with over 65% of possession and could have extended their lead before halftime if not for Oblak, who made a brilliant one-handed save on the goal-line to keep out a point-blank first-time shot by Felix in the 44th minute.

Feeling the heat, Simeone made three changes at halftime, but Barcelona stayed on top after the break with Raphinha's strike from long range hitting the post in the 55th.

IMAGE: Barcelona's Inaki Pena saves a free kick from Atletico Madrid's Memphis Depay. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

But as the minutes passed Barca seemed to run out of steam due to the relentless pace of the first three quarters of the game and Atletico seized the opportunity, with fresh players coming off the bench leading a strong late bid for an equaliser.

However, they were frustrated by Barca's inspired keeper Inaki Pena, replacing the injured Marc-Andre ter Stegen. He made several saves to secure Barca the points, including two stoppage time ones to deny Memphis Depay and Angel Correa.

"We threw the first half away, no one seemed to want the ball," Oblak told Movistar Plus. "It hurts a lot, we didn't start well, we didn't shoot in the first half and it hurts.

"If we had played a bit better in the first half we would have had a chance but we were bad and we were punished."

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Source: REUTERS
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