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Atletico end Barca's ECL title defence

Associated Press Associated Press 13/04/2016 By Tales Azzoni

The big three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar failed to fire as holders Barcelona were dumped out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid.

France striker Antoine Griezmann scored a goal in each half as Atletico ran out 2-0 winners - over-turning a first leg deficit to secure a 3-2 victory on aggregate.

Barcelona's star trio was kept in check by some tough defending, while Diego Simeone's team reached the last four for the second time in the past three seasons.

"It wasn't our best day," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said.

"We weren't lucid and we struggled to create chances. After they scored, they did what they do best - which is defend. They did that very well and delivered a complete performance."

The defeat ended Barcelona's hopes of repeating the treble of Champions League, Copa del Rey and Spanish league titles.

Their performance was summed up by another disappointing display from Messi, who again failed to score his elusive 500th career goal.

The playmaker is enduring his worst scoring slump with Barcelona in five years, and hasn't scored since his side's Champions League round of 16 win over Arsenal almost a month ago.

Only twice had Barcelona failed to advance after winning the first leg in their previous 40 attempts in European competitions.

It was Atletico's first win over Barcelona since Luis Enrique took over the Catalan club after the 2013-14 season.

"We never stopped believing," Simeone said.

"We worked, knowing the situation, knowing what we can do. They had individuals who could break the game open, but we stayed together and stayed strong."

Barcelona had reason to feel aggrieved with the referee, after a handball by Atletico's Gabi Fernandez that appeared to be inside the area, was judged by the referee outside the box in second-half injury time.

Messi's ensuing free kick sailed over the crossbar, when a goal would have sent the game to extra time.

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