Enrique irked by wayward shooting against Atletico

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique admitted missed chances have left his side with some work to do to reach a fourth straight King's Cup final despite taking a 2-1 semi-final first leg lead over Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique admitted missed chances have left his side with some work to do to reach a fourth straight King's Cup final despite taking a 2-1 semi-final first leg lead over Atletico Madrid.PHOTO: EPA

MADRID • Barcelona coach Luis Enrique admitted missed chances have left his side with some work to do to reach a fourth straight King's Cup final despite taking a 2-1 semi-final first leg lead over Atletico Madrid.

Sensational strikes from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi had Barca cruising at half-time at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday. However, Antoine Griezmann pulled a goal back for an inspired Atletico after the break before Neymar blasted over a huge chance to restore Barca's two-goal lead.

"If we had been more efficient with the quality we have in this team, we could have taken our chances better and had a different second leg," said Enrique.

Barca will also be without Neymar for the return leg on Tuesday as he picked up his third yellow card in the Cup this season late on.

"We knew we had to score here," said Suarez. "That was important and we got two, but it is not at all over."

It was a tale of two halves as Barca dominated in the first 45 minutes with Suarez's marvellous solo run and finish, compounded by Messi's thunderous 20-yard strike.

"I think we started the tie very well, knowing how difficult it is to play here at the Calderon," added Enrique. "We made sure they couldn't create any attacks, we kept the ball in their half, created a lot of chances and were very efficient.

"In the second half, given the result, Atletico had to attack. They pressed us much more and caused a lot more problems."

Four previous two-legged ties between the sides over the past three seasons were split two apiece. And Atletico looked far more like the side that Diego Simeone has made into serial trophy contenders over the past five years after the introduction of Fernando Torres at half-time.

"We spoke at half-time and I think in the second half we got close to the team we have always been," said Simeone. "I am left with that positive feeling. We were close to a draw."

For all his achievements, Simeone is yet to win at the Camp Nou as Atletico boss.

"I don't know what percentage chance we have," he said. "Even if it is 20 per cent, we will give everything we have to make that 20 per cent count."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2017, with the headline 'Enrique irked by wayward shooting against Atletico'. Print Edition | Subscribe