Hugo Duro scored twice in second-half stoppage time as Atletico Madrid threw away a two-goal lead in a remarkable 3-3 draw away to Valencia on Sunday.

Atletico looked to be well on track to bouncing back from a disappointing midweek defeat to Liverpool but Valencia showed commendable spirit to peg them back right at the end.

The visitors had dominated the first half and led through Luis Suarez's sublime goal, only for Valencia to improve after the break and level through Stefan Savic's own goal.

A quick-fire double from Atletico, courtesy of Antoine Griezmann and Sime Vrsaljko, looked as though it would be enough for the champions, only for Valencia substitute Duro to clinch a late brace that incredibly rescued a point.

Atletico Madrid are hoping to recover from losing to Liverpool on matchday three with a repeat of their Anfield heroics last March.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will look to take bigger steps towards the last 16, while Real Madrid will go in search of another big win against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Inter can put themselves in a good position to progress, too, although city rivals Milan have got much more of a fight on their hands.

Here are some of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's Champions League matches...

 

Liverpool v Atletico Madrid: Can Suarez improve rotten recent record?

Atletico were winners at Anfield on their last visit as they claimed a 3-2 victory in the last-16 second leg in March 2020. Indeed, Liverpool have only twice beaten Spanish teams at home in 13 attempts in the European Cup and Champions League.

That said, the Marcos Llorente-inspired game last year was one of only two out of 22 at home that Jurgen Klopp has lost in this competition as Reds manager, while Diego Simeone is chasing what would only be the second instance of a third successive away win in the tournament with Atleti.

Luis Suarez will hope to haunt his old side, although recent history is against him: he's only scored one for Atleti in nine Champions League games, and none from open play. Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, needs one more goal to equal Steven Gerrard as Liverpool's top scorer in the competition at Anfield (14).

Manchester City v Club Brugge: Bad omens for Belgian champions

City's 5-1 triumph in Bruges on matchday three took their tally to six wins in seven European games against Belgian opposition, while Brugge are now without a victory over English teams in 13 attempts dating back to February 1995.

Since Pep Guardiola took charge, City have won 80 per cent (20 out of 25) of home Champions League matches, which is the best record for a coach at a single club in the competition among those to take charge of 20 or more. A first win on English soil for Brugge looks unlikely.

Might this be a chance for Raheem Sterling to impress? The England forward has been directly involved in 24 goals in 27 home Champions League games for City, a tally surpassed only by Sergio Aguero (27).

 

RB Leipzig v Paris Saint-Germain: Nkunku could outshine Messi

PSG have only lost one of their past nine away games in the group stage, but that defeat was against RB Leipzig last season. It was the only time in the previous seven meetings with French sides that Leipzig emerged victorious.

He might be enduring a difficult time in Ligue 1, but Lionel Messi has managed three goals in three games in Europe for PSG. His double in the reverse fixture was his 34th in the competition, something only Cristiano Ronaldo (37) can better.

However, perhaps the most in-form player in 2021-22 is Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, who has been involved in the most open-play sequences ending in a goal (six) among Champions League midfielders this season. And he has four goals of his own from the first three matches.

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk: Another big win on the cards with Benzema

Madrid's 5-0 win over Shakhtar on matchday three means the past five meetings between these teams have seen an average of 4.6 goals scored per game. In fact, Los Blancos have scored 15 times in five Champions League matches against Shakhtar: that average of three per game is their best figure against a side they have faced on at least five occasions, apart from Galatasaray (3.4 per game).

Shakhtar are one of just three sides yet to score in this season's group stage, but with Madrid having lost three of their previous eight home games in the competition, this could be a good opportunity.

They will need to stop Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, though: they are the two players with the most involvements in shot-ending sequences in 2021-22 (31 and 34, respectively). Plus, Benzema is on a run of 10 goals in 10 home games in the competition.

 

Sheriff v Inter: Nothing shot-shy about Inzaghi's men

Inter ended Sheriff's 11-game unbeaten run in Europe last time out and will now look to secure consecutive Champions League victories for the first time since October 2018.

The Nerazzurri have lost just once in their previous five Champions League away matches, but Sheriff are unbeaten in their most recent five European games on home soil, excluding qualifiers. They've also won the past two.

Inter certainly have the variety to break down Sheriff's stubborn defence. Each of their previous 17 away goals in the competition have come from open play, while their 29 shots in the meeting on matchday three were the most by an Italian side in a Champions League game since at least 2003-04.

Other fixtures:

Borussia Dortmund v Ajax

45 – Ajax's 4-0 win over Dortmund last time out was the biggest victory by a Dutch side over a German team in Europe since November 1976, when Feyenoord defeated Kaiserslautern 5-0 in the UEFA Cup.

8 – Sebastien Haller has been directly involved in more Champions League goals this season than any other player (eight – six goals, two assists). Among debutants in the competition since 2003-04, this is the highest such figure over a player's first four appearances and one more than Erling Haaland managed.

Milan v Porto

3 – Milan are one of just four sides this season to have lost all three group games. They are on a five-game losing run in the competition, the worst such streak in their history.

1 – Since scoring four for Chelsea against Sevilla in December 2020, Olivier Giroud has scored only once in 250 minutes of play in the Champions League.

Sporting CP v Besiktas

5 – Paulinho has been directly involved in three of Sporting's five goals (two scored, one assisted) in this season's Champions League. Their last player to manage more goals and assists combined in a single season was Nani in 2014-15 (six).

10 – Michy Batshuayi has attempted 10 shots for Besiktas in the Champions League in 2021-22 without scoring. Over the first three matchdays, only Inter's Lautaro Martinez (12) had more shots without finding the net.

Luis Suarez has appeared 67 times at Anfield. On Wednesday, with Atletico Madrid, that will become 68. The former Liverpool favourite will hope this is nothing like his last visit.

Anfield outing #67 – Suarez's first not in Liverpool colours – saw the striker's Barcelona side sensationally beaten 4-0 in 2019, crashing out of the Champions League despite a 3-0 home win in the first leg of their semi-final.

Suarez, who had passionately celebrated his Camp Nou goal, was jeered with each of his 31 touches on Merseyside, starting from the very first second when he took the kick-off.

The Uruguay great later described himself as "so sad" to get such a reaction, but he will surely again this week be greeted with a hostile reception entirely out of keeping with the adoration afforded Liverpool's latest leading man, Mohamed Salah.

Salah was in the stands when Suarez returned back in 2019, missing a Champions League match for the only time in his Liverpool career to date due to concussion. Divock Origi was the hero instead.

 

Since then, though, the 'Egyptian King' has firmly laid to rest any claim Suarez had to being the Reds' greatest modern forward.

According to Jurgen Klopp and several others, Salah is now the best player in the world – and Liverpool supporters will revel seeing him prove it against Suarez's Atletico.

Two standout seasons

There were several similarities between the 2013-14 season of Suarez and Salah's 2017-18 campaign, as each inspired Liverpool to the cusp of history.

On both occasions, the individual errors of team-mates – Steven Gerrard against Chelsea in the Premier League, Loris Karius versus Real Madrid in the Champions League – left the superstar forwards agonisingly short of the finish line.

Suarez had scored an outstanding 31 goals that year – all in the Premier League, matching the 38-game benchmark that belonged jointly to Alan Shearer (1995-96) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08).

Like so many standards Suarez set, though, Salah reached and then surpassed that mark four years later.

Salah had 30 goals by Valentine's Day, becoming the first Liverpool player to tally as many in a season since Suarez, but then kicked on from there.

His four goals in a single game against Watford the following month again made him the first Reds star to celebrate such a haul this side of Suarez (versus Norwich City in December 2013).

Salah finished with a new record 32 league goals among an astonishing 43 in all competitions, joining Suarez in scooping the PFA Player of the Year award – the sixth and seventh Liverpool players to be recognised.

Crucially, too, whereas the 2013-14 season was Suarez's last at Anfield, 2017-18 was merely the first of many for Salah, who has moved well clear of his fellow Kop icon as a result.

Salah on track again

While Salah has not come close to that 43-goal total again – at least until now – he has maintained a high level throughout his Liverpool career.

Only in 2019-20 did the forward fail to net 20 times in the Premier League, and Klopp's men won the title that year.

But Salah's current form is hinting at the sort of season that would blow away his own previous performance, let alone Suarez's.

Going into the game against Atleti, Salah has 15 goals and six assists in just 13 appearances this season.

His run of scoring in 10 straight games in all competitions – a feat never previously achieved by a Liverpool player – ended in Saturday's draw with Brighton and Hove Albion, but the Egypt international still provided an assist for Jordan Henderson. This sequence of goal involvements in 11 matches in a row is the best of Salah's Reds career.

By comparison, Suarez never scored in more than five successive appearances – also his best run of goals and assists.

 

Salah has never been better and enters the Atleti match one shy of Gerrard's record of 14 home goals in the European Cup. Due to the timing of his departure for Barca, Suarez never even played a Champions League game for Liverpool, although he did win the competition in his first season at Camp Nou.

Whether on Wednesday or later in the season, that Anfield honour will surely soon belong to Salah, but it is not yet out of the question that he could follow Suarez in leaving Liverpool before the club might hope.

There are now less than two years to run on Salah's Reds contract and, as Europe's premier performer, he is in complete control of his destiny.

An ear towards the Liverpool fans when Suarez gets the ball this week might inform Salah of the worth of staying put, though. There are undoubtedly more records still to break, too.

Atletico Madrid ended a three-game winless run in all competitions with a 3-0 victory over Real Betis at a rain-soaked Wanda Metropolitano.

Yannick Carrasco's superb first-half finish and an own goal from German Pezzella in the second put the champions in control against Manuel Pellegrini's side.

Joao Felix came off the bench to drill home a third as Atleti delivered their best league performance since the 2-0 win over Barcelona at the start of the month.

Betis rarely offered a threat to Jan Oblak's goal as they endured an eighth defeat in nine away league games against Atletico, a run in which they have failed to score in any of the past six games.

William Carvalho had a shot parried by Oblak in the first minute of a match that started in frenetic fashion, Betis looking to capitalise on a defence that had conceded at least twice in each of Atleti's previous three games.

Jose Gimenez and Antoine Griezmann each came close before Carrasco broke the deadlock in stunning style, taking Angel Correa's pass, turning away from Martin Montoya and blasting high past Claudio Bravo at his near post.

Luis Suarez headed wide when unmarked and Mario Hermoso saw the flag rule out a second when he nodded in Antoine Griezmann's delivery, as Atletico continued to push forward.

A fine passing move saw Griezmann pick out Suarez, but Bravo thwarted the striker again. However, from the resulting Griezmann corner, Pezzella mistimed his header and nodded the ball firmly into his own net.

Substitute Felix completed the scoring with a well-taken left-footed finish driven beneath Bravo, a VAR check showing he had timed his run to meet Carrasco's throughball perfectly.


What does it mean? Champions up into fourth

Atleti's win lifted them above Betis in the table and to within two points of leaders Real Madrid, second-placed Sevilla and Real Sociedad in third. Sociedad had a game to come later on Sunday, however.

It will also give them some confidence ahead of a Champions League visit to Liverpool in the coming week, particularly after the Reds surrendered a two-goal lead to draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Bravo keeps scores respectable

Atleti should really have been out of sight before Pezzella's unfortunate own goal, with Bravo making seven saves as Suarez in particular was profligate with his chances.

The former Barcelona keeper has never before made as many saves in a single LaLiga match.

Suarez needs sharpness

Suarez missed two big chances and had the highest expected goals figure (0.48) of any of Atletico's attacking players during his 71 minutes on the pitch.

The Uruguay striker will need to be more ruthless against his old club if Atletico are to leave Merseyside with a positive result.

What's next?

Atleti face Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday before heading to Valencia on November 7 for their final game before the next international break.

Enis Bardhi scored a controversial late penalty for Levante to salvage a dramatic 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid in a frenetic finish that saw Diego Simeone sent off.

In his seventh outing since signing from Hertha Berlin in a reported €30million deal in August, Matheus Cunha appeared to have netted the winner with 14 minutes remaining at Estadio Ciutat de Valencia.

However, as Simeone watched from the stands after being shown a second yellow card for dissent, Renan Lodi was deemed to have handled the ball in the box when referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes reviewed footage on the pitchside monitor.

Bardhi, who cancelled out Antoine Griezmann's opener in the first half, drilled in a second penalty of the game in the 90th minute to deny the reigning LaLiga champions the full three points.

Griezmann had put Atleti ahead inside 12 minutes with his first LaLiga goal since returning to the club from Barcelona, following up his cross and nodding home Felipe's header back into the middle.

Levante responded well to going behind and drew level in the 37th minute when Bardhi slammed home a penalty after Luis Suarez miscontrolled the ball in the box and fouled Ruben Vezo.

Atleti finally regained their lead when substitute Rodrigo de Paul drove forward and released Cunha – who only replaced Griezmann four minutes prior – to slot beneath Aitor Fernandez.

Simeone remained heated and was shown a second yellow card for remonstrating at the fourth official, with Atleti unable to hold on for the victory.

A harsh handball decision against Lodi resulted in a penalty that Bardhi confidently dispatched low into the left corner to send the home fans into raptures, though Rober Pier received a second yellow card after the final whistle for complaining to the referee.


What does it mean? 

Atletico have struggled at Estadio Ciutat de Valencia under Simeone – prior to kick-off, the only LaLiga grounds where they had a higher losing percentage were Camp Nou and the Reale Arena.

Although they now haven't lost on any of their past five top-flight trips to Levante, they will have been hoping for more than a draw against the leakiest defence in the competition this season.

Failing to see out the victory means they are five points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Sociedad, who were 2-0 winners at Celta Vigo earlier in the day – Atleti do have a game in hand, though.

Brilliant Bardhi

Bardhi is a set-piece specialist, but his two penalties were his first goals from the spot for Levante. He also created three chances for team-mates in a thoroughly impressive outing. 

Atleti's toothless trident

Griezmann may have got on the scoresheet, but his link-up with Suarez and Joao Felix was nowhere near as exciting as it promised to be. Griezmann and Suarez did not share a single pass, while Joao Felix and the France star only exchanged the ball four times.

Key Opta facts

- Levante have conceded five goals in the first 15 minutes of their games in LaLiga this season, the same number as Valencia have shipped in the opening quarter of an hour. No other side have conceded more in this period.
- Eight of 22 goals scored by Bardhi with Levante in LaLiga have come from set-pieces, but here he scored his first two goals from the penalty spot in the competition. The other six came from direct free-kicks.
- Levante have had the most penalties awarded in their favour in LaLiga this season (5). Before their double success against Atletico, they had failed to convert four of their previous six spot-kicks in the competition.
- Joao Felix is on a streak of 940 minutes (spanning 19 games) without scoring for Atletico in all competitions, his worst streak with Rojiblancos. His last goal was against Villarreal in LaLiga on February 28, 2021.
- Cunha scored his first goal in LaLiga with his first shot on goal in the competition after seven games and 115 minutes played with the Rojiblancos in the competition.
- Levante have played three games without losing against Atletico in LaLiga (W1 D2), their best streak without defeat in their history against the capital club.
- Levante are undefeated in six of their last seven games against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid (W2 D4).

What's next?

Atleti have an important meeting with fourth-placed Real Betis to look forward to on Sunday, while Levante are at home to Granada on Monday.

Matheus Cunha went from ecstasy to despair as he followed his first Atletico Madrid goal by conceding a late penalty that Levante scored to salvage a dramatic 2-2 draw.

In his seventh outing since signing from Hertha Berlin in a reported €30million deal in August, Cunha appeared to have netted the winner with 14 minutes remaining at Estadio Ciutat de Valencia.

However, as Diego Simeone watched from the stands after being shown a second yellow card for dissent, Cunha was deemed to have handled the ball in the box when referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes reviewed footage on the pitchside monitor.

Enis Bardhi, who cancelled out Antoine Griezmann's opener in the first half, drilled in a second penalty of the game in the 90th minute to deny the reigning LaLiga champions the full three points.

Gianluigi Donnarumma's move to Paris Saint-Germain dominated headlines following a busy off-season in the French capital.

Donnarumma was part of an incredible transfer window for PSG, which included the likes of Lionel Messi and Achraf Hakimi arriving.

But Donnarumma is already reportedly considering his future with the Ligue 1 giants.

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA WEIGHING UP FUTURE

Gianluigi Donnarumma will leave Paris Saint-Germain if he continues to be overlooked in favour of Keylor Navas, according to Calciomercato.

Donnarumma only joined PSG from Milan on a free transfer at the start of the season, but he has found himself playing second fiddle to Navas in Paris.

The Italy international has already been linked with Juventus and Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

Luis Suarez is seeking a new contract at Atletico Madrid but the LaLiga champions want to hold off until the end of the season before deciding, per Saturday's Marca. Atletico have been linked with wantaway Fiorentina star Dusan VlahovicManchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Inter have also been linked to Vlahovic.

Bayern Munich are pushing to sign Salzburg forward Karim Adeyemi, reports Sport1. The 19-year-old has impressed in Austria, where he has been linked with Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Real Madrid.

- Porto's Luis Diaz is attracting interest from Newcastle United, Chelsea, Bayern and Madrid, claims Nicolo Schira.

Antonio Rudiger's priority is to stay at Chelsea but Fabrizio Romano says the race is open to sign the Germany defender, with Madrid and Bayern among his admirers.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has emerged as an option for Atletico, who are planning for life without Saul. Brozovic has been linked with Manchester United and Barca.

 

Brazil returned to winning ways and continued on their path to Qatar 2022 as Neymar and Raphinha dazzled in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay on Thursday.

The Selecao, whose perfect qualifying record ended with Sunday's 0-0 draw in Colombia, raced to a two-goal lead within 18 minutes against a ragged Uruguay side via strikes from Neymar and Raphinha, making his first international start.

Raphinha doubled his account in the 58th minute as Brazil dominated La Celeste, with Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera prevented the score from being uglier in Manaus.

Luis Suarez's 77th minute free-kick meant Brazil, who had gone six qualifiers without conceding a goal and nine in home World Cup qualifying games, have conceded twice in their past three before Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa's rounded out the scoring four minutes from time.

Neymar netted in the 10th minute, chesting down Fred's lofted ball into the box, the superstar forward getting around Muslera and drilling home from a sharp angle past Sebastian Coates on the line.

Raphinha doubled Brazil's advantage, firing in after Neymar's shot deflected off Diego Godin and Muslera into his path to become the first Leeds United player to score for the South American giants.

Brazil should have had a third in the 34th minute when Neymar and Raphinha both took a touch too many inside the box, failing to shoot.

Muslera kept Uruguay in the game after the interval, denying Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus twice in quick succession, along with Raphinha.

Edinson Cavani, who started alongside Uruguay's all-time leading scorer Suarez, had a goal disallowed for a clear offside in the 56th minute before Brazil added a third.

Raphinha grabbed his second, capping off a swift counter-attack by firing in off the post from Neymar's release approaching the hour.

Muslera saved well to thwart substitute Barbosa twice, before Suarez rifled in a free-kick into the bottom corner for a consolation goal – his 65th international strike.

Barbosa got his goal after VAR consultation, heading in from Neymar's cross to make it two goals in his last three international appearances.

Atletico Madrid's "world class" strike force of Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Angel Correa and Joao Felix will help the club to finish above Real Madrid, Barcelona and any other challengers in the LaLiga title race.

That is the view of ex-Valencia, Celta Vigo, Villarreal and Real Zaragoza defender Jose Enrique, who told Stats Perform he also expects Atleti to put up a fight for the Champions League under "annoying" boss Diego Simeone.

The reigning Spanish champions are level on points with city rivals Madrid at LaLiga's summit after eight matches thanks to a 2-0 win over Barcelona – who are five points worse off in ninth with a game in hand – prior to the international break.

Atleti have been far from perfect at the start of their title defence, though, having dropped points against Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Deportivo Alaves this term, losing 1-0 to the latter in the shock of the season so far.

Simeone's side have also had to ride their luck at times, with three of their 11 league goals coming in added time and another two arriving in the 78th and 79th minute.

Suarez leads the way with four goals, including a strike against former side Barca two weeks ago, while Correa has three to his name.

With that goal against Barca, the Uruguay international completed the set by scoring against all 31 teams that he has faced in the Spanish top flight.

 

Joao Felix has yet to get off the mark for the LaLiga campaign, though, and Griezmann is also goalless in the league since rejoining from Barcelona at the end of the most recent transfer window.

Yet while Madrid have double the number of goals as Atleti, Jose Enrique rates Los Rojiblancos' attack as the best around and cannot see past them finishing top for a third time in nine seasons this time around.

"I think it will be Atletico," the Spaniard, who also spent eight years in the Premier League with Newcastle United and Liverpool, said when asked who he expects to win the title.

"I know there been some games where they had to struggle in terms of scoring, with 90-something minute winners or whatever. 

"But what they have in the players they have is just incredible. You see the strength of the squad they have. They just signed Griezmann and they have Suarez, Joao Felix, Correa. 

"You talk about those four and for me that could be in any team in the world, and the four of them are strikers.

"Correa can play out on the wing sometimes, Joao Felix as well. But you're talking about four world-class strikers in my opinion. So, for me they are amazing. 

"It is true that that defensively, maybe there's a little bit more. But this is a team that I really believe is going to win the league this year.

"In the Champions League they're going to be annoying again, because Simeone is very, very annoying, always."

Diego Simeone asked Luis Suarez to contact Lionel Messi regarding the possibility of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining Atletico Madrid prior to signing for Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi ended a 21-year spell with Barcelona in August as he signed for PSG on a free transfer after the Blaugrana were unable to re-sign the club great due to salary cap restrictions.

Suarez, who Barca surprisingly allowed to join Atletico last year after being deemed surplus to requirements by Ronald Koeman, formed a deep relationship on and off the pitch with Messi during their six years together at Camp Nou.

The pair formed a scintillating attacking trio with Neymar, and Suarez assisted the Argentina captain 47 times – five more than any other player to feature with Messi at Barca.

And Simeone revealed he attempted to partner Suarez and Messi again when the Barca legend became available following confirmation of his departure.

"I'll tell you a detail… With what happened in Barcelona, we called Luis [Suarez]," Simeone told Argentine outlet Ole when asked about any potential move for his compatriot.

"With all due respect, I didn't call Leo [Messi], but I did call Luis to ask how Messi was doing, if he was eager or if there was a slight possibility that he would come to Atletico." 

However, the mission to secure the 34-year-old came to an abrupt end, as Simeone explained: "[It was] something that lasted three hours, because PSG was already obsessed with that [signing]."

It would have been a peculiar feeling for Simeone and the club's fans to see Messi lining up for Atletico, given Los Colchoneros were among Messi's favourite opponents during his time in Spain – his 32 goals against them second only to the 38 plundered in clashes with Sevilla.

Therefore, Simeone knows first-hand the quality Messi possesses. But, true to form, the Atletico head coach insisted the focus would have remained on the team effort even if he had pulled off such a coup.

"He was always at Barcelona, I was always at Atletico [during Messi's career] and we didn't coincide as players in the national team," he continued. "But to me, if you ask me where Messi has to play, I tell you in a team that wants to win, in a team that knows what it has to do to win.

"It doesn't matter where he plays, it matters that the team is prepared to win. Don't think about him, think about the team."

Luis Suarez says the phone call in which Ronald Koeman told him he was surplus to requirements at Barcelona lasted only 40 seconds.

Koeman wasted little time in deciding to move Suarez on after the Dutchman took the reins at Camp Nou in August last year, with Atletico Madrid the beneficiaries.

It came as a surprise to many, not least of all Suarez himself, with the Uruguay international having enjoyed a prolific six years in Catalonia.

The former Liverpool forward scored 198 goals and provided 97 assists in 283 games, winning LaLiga four times and the Champions League in 2015.

Suarez was on the scoresheet as Atletico ran out 2-0 winners over Barca at the start of this month, piling the pressure on Koeman, who watched on as the player he let go celebrated by pretending to take a phone call – a gesture Suarez insisted was not aimed at his old boss.

Speaking to Gerard Romero on Twitch regarding his departure, Suarez revealed: "The call from Koeman to tell me that [I wasn't in his plans] lasted 40 seconds, it's not the way to say goodbye to a legend.

"First he told me that I wasn't in his plans, and then he told me that if I didn't get my contract sorted out I was going to play against Villarreal.

"He lacked the personality to tell me clearly if he didn't want me or if it was really the club that didn't want me."

 

Suarez left at a time when Lionel Messi was also seeking to move on and he admitted it had been a tough period.

"They were very difficult days because of everything I gave to the club," he added.

"I spoke to Sofia [Suarez's wife] and Leo after the phone call. It was a complicated year due to everything.

"Messi asked to leave and I was being sent away. Both of our families had a very bad time."

Luis Suarez insists his goal celebration during Atletico Madrid's victory over Barcelona was not a mockery of former boss Ronald Koeman.

Suarez was on target as reigning LaLiga champions Atletico intensified the pressure on the Barca head coach with a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Latching on to Thomas Lemar's lofted pass in the 44th minute, the Uruguay forward steadied himself before firing past Marc-Andre ter Stegen for his fourth goal of the season.

Suarez has now found the net against all 31 opponents he has faced in LaLiga, taking his tally in the Spanish top flight to 172 goals.

The 34-year-old did not celebrate immediately after his strike – instead appearing to ask for forgiveness from the supporters of his former side, for whom he scored 198 goals in 283 appearances, as well as providing 97 assists.

However, he subsequently imitated being on the phone in what was perceived to be a jibe at the expense of Koeman, who informed the striker he was not in his plans after taking over the reins at the Camp Nou in August 2020.

But Suarez says the gesture was in fact the representation of an inside family joke.

"I already knew that if I scored, I would apologise – out of respect, affection," he said.

"[The phone signal] was for people who know that I have the same number and that I am still using the phone. 

"It was not for Koeman; I was joking with my children that I would do that."

The 2-0 victory also gave Atletico a third consecutive clean sheet against Barca for the first time in LaLiga history.

More importantly, it moved Diego Simeone's side level on points with leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand on their rivals.

"I'm happy for the team's victory, which is what we want," Suarez added.

"The opponent in front of us is special, but my work must be dedicated 100 per cent to Atletico.

"Last year, people suffered for not being able to enjoy the LaLiga title. 

"I know the affection that people have for me and I work hard and strong to keep Atletico at the top."

Barcelona lack many things right now: a top level coach, a Champions League wage budget, Lionel Messi, of course. But a nose for narrative? That has never been in question.

Luis Suarez's apologetic celebrations at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, as Ronald Koeman checked the charge on his mobile phone, represented merely the latest desperate development for those of a Blaugrana persuasion – all too predictable, all too preventable.

For so long Suarez, who made one and scored one for Atletico Madrid in this 2-0 victory, had been in the Barca ranks, an unwitting spectator for a stretch of their spectacular collapse from European football's shining example to its great crisis club.

Barca at least had rather less say in the departure that kickstarted this decline than in Suarez's.

The beginning of the end, it seemed, came on the night of one of their greatest wins, a stunning 6-1 success against Paris Saint-Germain orchestrated by Neymar. In overturning a hefty first-leg deficit but allowing the Brazil superstar to step out from Messi's shadow, Barca's joy emboldened his desire to be the main man in his own team – the other team, to be precise.

Of course, Neymar left, and Barca, rather than rallying from behind, twice in the next two seasons built big European leads of their own – at home to Roma and Liverpool – only to remarkably let both bring about return-leg remontadas.

The Blaugrana, seemingly without a thought for their finances, responded to the Liverpool reverse with their third nine-figure signing in three years, as Antoine Griezmann followed Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele to Camp Nou and followed both in underwhelming.

By the time their next Champions League campaign concluded in typically farcical fashion, all three were on the bench – Griezmann and Dembele for Barca, Coutinho for opponents Bayern Munich. On came Coutinho, still on loan from Barca, to score twice in 15 minutes against his parent club. Since returning to Catalonia, he has scored three times in 1,041 minutes, missing their best chance on Saturday.

 

Bayern's 8-2 win prompted Quique Setien's sacking and Koeman's appointment, which surprisingly then spelled the end for Suarez. "The coach did not count on me," the striker said as he joined Atletico. "I expected it, it had already been said before he told me."

From an eight-goal humiliation, a club of Barca's size should only be able to head in one direction, back on the ascent. But Suarez's departure deepened the damage. An unsettled Messi allowed his contract to run down and, in a manner that only Barca could manage, had to leave even once he changed his mind.

Four years of bad decisions led Barca to this point and Suarez, starting in the Atleti attack, was never likely to be one for sympathy. With neither a coherent plan nor an individual of era-defining talent to fall back on, Koeman's side were ill-equipped to deal with a man he had deemed surplus to requirements.

Twice Atleti pulled the Barca back line apart, Koeman phoning in from the stands due to a touchline ban but mirroring the gesticulations of Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay as the visitors failed to get close to Suarez.

A drop of the shoulder from Joao Felix for the first brought him inside from the left to find his strike partner, whose first-time pass around the corner set Thomas Lemar clear to finish high into the net.

The same trio combined for number two, Lemar playing a patient one-two with Joao Felix down the same left flank and then lofting an inch-perfect pass over last defender Pique for Suarez to control, compose himself and steer past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

"The opponent in front of us is special, but my work must be dedicated 100 per cent to Atletico," Suarez told Movistar afterwards – the Atleti goal never truly troubled as they earned a third straight LaLiga clean sheet against Barca for the first time ever.

 

By full-time, Suarez had been able to remove the wide grin from his face long enough to console his former team-mates, having moments earlier been hopping with glee on the Atleti bench.

He was replaced with 18 minutes remaining but surely would have added to his tally had he stayed on the pitch. Instead, Atleti's final big opportunity fell to Griezmann, back on the bench in a big Barcelona game, this time playing the Coutinho role for the opposition. Rather than ruthlessly finish like either of the ex-Liverpool men when faced with the chance to punish the club he used to call home, Griezmann went for a pass, which he comically misplaced. With a future obligation in his loan switch meaning he will not return to Camp Nou like Coutinho, the France international need not have been so generous.

Despite sharing more than seven years between these two teams, Griezmann has somehow never scored in this fixture – featuring in every edition in that time – and never won LaLiga. Atleti had gone 20 without a win against Barca before last season's meeting, in which Griezmann started for the Catalans.

An underwhelming start to his second Atleti career saw him dropped for this game, setting the stage for Joao Felix to excel, contesting 10 duels, winning four fouls and playing a key role in both goals. Griezmann is an expensive substitute; Barca's €97million salary cap could not even fit him in the first team.

Nor, it seems, can they afford to sack Koeman, out of his depth but determined to stick around. His future, Joan Laporta said, was safe regardless of this result.

Surely only that financial factor will prevent Suarez from seeing off the coach that ended his Barca stay. Scoring against the 31st of 31 LaLiga opponents, the forward gave it a good go, at least.

Luis Suarez scored one and assisted another to earn Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Barcelona that heaps even more pressure on Blaugrana boss Ronald Koeman.

The Dutchman's job has been repeatedly called into question following a poor run of form, with the result at Wanda Metropolitano making it one win in Barca's last six games.

Barca could have lifted some of the weight off Koeman's shoulders on Saturday, but Suarez set up Thomas Lemar for the opener and then fired in a second to put Atleti in control at half-time.

That is how the scoreline stayed as Diego Simeone's men inflicted a first league defeat of the season on their opponents to move level on points with Real Madrid at the summit.

 

Koeman was watching from the stands as he serves the second of a two-game touchline ban and saw his side fall behind to a well-worked Atleti goal with 23 minutes played.

Suarez was picked out by Joao Felix and then played a first-time pass into the path of Lemar for the France international to thump past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Former Barca man Suarez curled wide with only Ter Stegen to beat soon after, but he made amends by picking his spot when played in by Lemar at the end of a swift counter.

Philippe Coutinho, having earlier volleyed narrowly wide, wasted a glorious chance to pull one back when failing to get the better of Jan Oblak with an hour on the clock.

Joao Felix and Barca substitute Ansu Fati exchanged shots on target at either end in latter stages but no further goals arrived in the Spanish capital, potentially bringing down the curtain on Koeman's short-lived tenure.

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Greizmann is hopeful his goal against Milan will kick-start his second coming in the Spanish capital after making Champions League history on Tuesday.

Griezmann scored his first goal for Atletico since returning from Barcelona on deadline day as the LaLiga champions claimed a last-gasp 2-1 win over 10-man Milan.

Atletico trailed 1-0 at half-time following Rafael Leao's opener but the visitors eventually capitalised on their numerical advantage after Milan's Franck Kessie received a second yellow card on the half-hour mark at San Siro.

Griezmann fuelled Atletico's comeback on matchday two, coming off the bench and equalising in the 84th minute before Luis Suarez converted a penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Already Atletico's all-time leading goalscorer in the Champions League (22), Griezmann became the club's top scorer in away games after netting his sixth in the competition.

"I hope to get to my best level as quickly as possible. [There've been] a lot of changes," Griezmann told Movistar post-game.

"It [the transfer] was done on the last day and it's different tactics, a different dressing room, another way of playing. In the end it's a lot of changes.

"Everything is different. I have to get used to it as quickly as possible because the coach and my team-mates need me. Nights like this are going to help me to get better.

 "[Head coach Diego Simeone] improved me, he got me to my best level. I want to pay him back and the club, the fans, my team-mates. I'm very proud to be here. I think the fans, the people, want to see me like this like tonight.

"I want to bring them happiness and they'll be going to bed happy tonight. My only objective coming back here is to make them happy."

This was Atletico's first away win against Italian opponents since they beat Milan in the Champions League in February 2014 (1-0), having been winless in four such games entering Tuesday's contest (D2 L2).

Excluding extra time, Suarez's penalty at 96:21 was the latest game-winning goal in the Champions League since the start of the 2003-04 season (as far back as Opta have exact goal times).

Page 1 of 6
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.