Messi scores as Barcelona beat Atletico 1-0 in Copa


By Joseph Wilson ,AP

BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi finished off his own missed penalty with five minutes left to give Barcelona a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak blocked Messi initial spot kick, but he couldn’t recover in time to stop Messi from rushing forward to slam home the rebound and ignite the Camp Nou. Messi was set up to get the winner after Juanfran Torres fouled Sergio Busquets in the area.

Just two weeks ago he was under intense pressure following a loss and the firing of Barcelona’s sports director, but the coach has since been bolstered by a second victory over Atletico in 10 days following its 3-1 win here in the league. Atletico went undefeated in six meetings with Barcelona last season en route to winning the league and reaching the Champions League final.

The return leg at the Vicente Calderon will be next Wednesday, with the winner of this series advancing to meet either Villarreal or Getafe.

Villarreal beat Getafe 1-0 after midfielder Bruno Soriano also scored with five minutes to play when he curled home a free kick.

Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao drew 0-0 at Malaga. The winner of that contest will move on to face Sevilla or Espanyol, which play on Thursday.

Barcelona provided a flash of what it does best just four minutes after kickoff, when Messi and Dani Alves worked a mesmerizing one-two before Luis Suarez laid the off for Neymar to draw a one-handed save from Oblak.

Diego Simeone’s side then imposed a slower pace and got what it wanted: A number of set pieces that it usually excels at executing.

But Barcelona’s improvement in defense �X it has conceded a league-low nine goals�X was evident when Atletico failed to convert its five corner kicks into shots on goal, leaving it with Antoine Griezmann’s header over the top in the 35th minute for its only clear chance of the night.

Suarez had a golden opportunity a minute after Griezmann’s miss. But as so often in his first season at Barcelona, the Uruguay forward ended up falling to his knees and hiding his face in his hands after he sent Ivan Rakitic’s superb lobbed pass over the bar from inside the six-yard box.