We made mistakes of children, says Messi after Atlético surprised Barça

Jeddah, January 10 (AFP) Lionel Messi said that Barcelona was guilty of playing as children on Thursday after Atlético de Madrid organized an exciting comeback to beat them 3-2 and establish a Spanish Super Cup final against Real Madrid.

Barça sought Sunday's match against Real when he led 2-1 with nine minutes left, but instead it will be a Madrid derby in Saudi Arabia to decide who lifts the trophy.

It's a shame because we disconnected for a few moments and made children's mistakes, Messi said. We should have closed the game.

It is a blow to us, especially because we were the best team. Our mistakes cost us a lot.

The five goals were scored during a wild second half in Jeddah that began with Koke putting Atlético in front, just 21 seconds after entering as a substitute in the interval.

The goals of Messi and Antoine Griezmann turned the game around, only for Atlético to respond with a late double, Álvaro Morata converted a penalty in the 81st minute before Angel Correa found a winner in 86.

In the middle, Barcelona also had two goals discarded after the VAR discovered the offside, while Atleti was denied what looked like a clear penalty in 2-2, after the ball cut off Gerard's hand Pique.

They had more legs than us and in the end it cost us, Griezmann said.

We made mistakes in everything, in the passes, I think I lost a pass to Sam (Umtiti) before they scored, and small things can make you lose a match, a league, a Champions League.

A throbbing competition will have delighted the Spanish Football Federation, which has faced strong criticism for taking the competition away from Spain to a different continent, and a country that has a long-condemned history of human rights.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said Wednesday that he preferred the previous format, but his solid team selection, which included Messi, Griezmann and Luis Suarez, suggested that this was a tournament he was eager to win.

The goal for 2-2 came at a time when we didn't know how to get the game, said Valverde, whose position will be subject to further scrutiny.

- 'Instability' -

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There is always instability when lost, he added.

It remains to be seen how this defeat could affect the race for the La Liga title, with Real Madrid and Atlético now enjoying the opportunity not only to claim a trophy but also to obtain a psychological boost.

It's important for the club, we beat the best attack team in the world, said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

You saw our bite, our belief, our desire. That's what this club is about. Atlético survived a frantic first half and frustration overflowed when Jordi Alba hit Joao Felix with his finger, who then faced Messi. Suarez also had to be removed by Stefan Savic.

An explosive end to the first period was overcome by an explosive start in the second when Koke, who was in less than a minute, gave Atlético the advantage by stabbing in the lower corner.

Simeone decided not to celebrate and if he was worried about the amount of time remaining, he was right, as Barcelona scored twice in 11 minutes.

First, Messi matched after making his way through Koke and Savic at the edge of the area and then fired again after directing a high ball around Koke. This time, however, VAR showed that his elbow had served as a cushion.

The disappointment was brief when Alba crossed to Suarez and, although his header was brightly plucked by Jan Oblak, Griezmann nodded in rebound.

Piqué thought he had a third after Arturo Vidal launched a free kick from Messi through the area, but VAR intervened again.

Atlético returned again. Correa should have leveled them, but he seemed more anxious to find Felix than to shoot himself and when the rebound fell on Felix, Sergi Roberto made a final block.

But the floodgates had opened in the defense of Barça. Vitolo was the next to clear up and this time he was shot down by Neto. Morata converted the penalty.

Then, Morata was released on the right and his cross struck the hand hanging from Piqué, but despite the condemning repetitions, the referee decided not to kick again. However, moments later, Atlético re-entered. This time, Correa ran back and while Neto made a block, the ball had enough power to cross the line. Now, Simeone could celebrate. (AFP) APA APA

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