Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique praised Barcelona performance at Atletico Madrid. Getty


  • Catalans took big step towards the final with victory at the Vicente Calderon.
  • Neymar will miss the second leg due to suspension.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has hailed his side's 2-1 victory at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals as a "magnificent result". He also played down concerns about Neymar missing the return tie after the Brazilian was booked late in the second half at the Vicente Calderon.

Goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi gave Barcelona a clear advantage in an impressive first-half for the Catalans. However, Atletico fought back in the second 45 and Antoine Griezmann reduced the gap to give his side some hope for the next week's second leg at the Nou Camp.

Luis Enrique admitted the tie is still in the balance but hailed the importance of both wining and scoring two goals in a stadium like the Vicente Calderon.

"We got stuck right into the game, knowing how difficult the first few minutes would be at the Calderon. We knew what dangerous pressure Atletico create. We were in great control of it in the first half, both in defence and when moving into attack," the boss said.

"In the second half we started to have more problems and the goal got them back into the tie. But it was a magnificent result – we coped well and I'm pleased. We've got an interesting second leg ahead of us."

Barcelona suffered a blow after Neymar was booked in an aerial battle with Juanfran in the 64th minute, meaning he will miss the decisive second tie through suspension.

But Barcelona were already missing Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets on Wednesday night and Luis Enrique says his squad can also cope without the Brazilian at the Nou Camp.

"If there is any team in the world who can't lament absences it is Barcelona," Luis Enrique said. "Neymar is a vital player for us. It's obvious, but we have players who can cover him."

The Barcelona boss singled out once again the performance of Messi after the Argentine scored another impressive goal from outside the area.

"It's in big, special games like this that Messi shines," Luis Enrique recalled. "There aren't many words left to describe him. It's in big games that we see the best of Messi."