‘We Made Children’s Mistakes’, Says Messi After Barca Stunned By Atletico

 

Lionel Messi said Barcelona were guilty of playing like children on Thursday after Atletico Madrid staged a thrilling comeback to beat them 3-2 and set up a Spanish Super Cup final against Real Madrid.

Barca looked on course for a Sunday showdown against Real when they 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 switched off for a few moments and made children’s mistakes,” Messi said. “We should have closed out the match.

“It’s a blow for us, especially as we were the better team. Our mistakes cost us dearly.”

All five goals were scored during a wild second half in Jeddah that began with Koke putting Atletico in front, just 21 seconds after coming on as a substitute at the interval.

Goals from Messi and Antoine Griezmann turned the game on its head, only for Atletico to hit back with a late double, Alvaro Morata converting a penalty in the 81st minute before Angel Correa found a winner in the 86th.

In between, Barcelona also had two goals ruled out after VAR spotted tight offsides while Atleti were denied what looked a clear penalty at 2-2, after the ball clipped the hand of Gerard Pique.

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

“We made mistakes in everything, in passes – I think I missed a pass to Sam (Umtiti) before they scored – and the little things can lose you a match, a league, a Champions League.”

A pulsating contest will have delighted the Spanish Football Federation, who have faced heavy criticism for taking the competition away from Spain to a different continent, and a country that has a long-condemned record on human rights.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Wednesday he preferred the old format but his strong team selection, that included Messi, Griezmann and Luis Suarez, suggested 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 a hold of the game,” said Valverde, whose position will come under renewed scrutiny.

‘Instability’

“There is always instability when you lose,” he added.

It remains to be seen how this defeat might affect the La Liga title race, with Real Madrid and Atletico now enjoying the opportunity not only to claim a trophy but score a psychological boost too.

“It is important for the club, we beat the best-attacking team in the world,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “You saw our bite, our belief, our desire. It’s what this club is all about.”

Atletico survived a frantic first half and frustration spilled over at the break as Jordi Alba poked a finger in the face of Joao Felix, who then went head-to-head with Messi. Suarez also had to be pulled away by Stefan Savic.

A spikey end to the first period was trumped by an explosive start to the second as Koke, on for less than a minute, gave Atletico the lead by stabbing into the bottom corner.

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

First, Messi equalised after muscling his way through Koke and Savic on the edge of the area and then he fired in again after steering a high ball around Koke. This time, however, VAR showed his elbow had served as a cushion.

The disappointment was brief as Alba crossed for Suarez and while his header was brilliant pawed away by Jan Oblak, Griezmann nodded in the rebound.

Pique thought he had a third after Arturo Vidal half-volleyed Messi’s free-kick across the box but again VAR intervened.

Atletico came again. Correa should have pulled them level but appeared keener to find Felix than shoot himself and when the rebound did fall to the Felix, Sergi Roberto made a last-ditch block.

But the floodgates had opened in the Barca defence. Vitolo was next to go clear and this time he was brought down by Neto. Morata converted the penalty.

Then, Morata skipped free down the right and his cross struck the dangling hand of Pique but despite damning replays, the referee decided against giving another spot-kick.

Yet moments later, Atletico were in again. Correa this time sprinted in behind and while Neto made a block, the ball had just enough power to cross the line. Now, Simeone could celebrate.

Suicide Bombing: President Buhari Condoles With Saudi Authorities

Buhari, Saudi, Suicide BombingPresident Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the suicide bombing in Madinah, which occurred on Monday in Islam’s second holiest city.

Condoling with Saudi authorities over the reprehensible attack, President Buhari said that the development was a desecration of all that was sacred and holy, as it took place near the Prophet’s Mosque, and on one of the holy days of Ramadan.

“The merchants of evil have once again shown that there is nothing religious in their mindless acts, by striking near the Prophet’s Mosque. It validates the claim that terrorism really has nothing to do with Islam. Purveyors of terror are simply agents of the devil,” President Buhari said.

He asserted that the fact that the Madinah bombing came the same day as a suicide bomber struck near the US Consulate in Jeddah, also in Saudi Arabia, shows that it was an orchestrated plan to foul up the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

President Buhari urged┬ánations to remain vigilant, “so that we can collectively beat the forces of darkness on the prowl round the globe.”

President Buhari stressed that terrorism no longer respects international boundaries, and charged humanity to rise as one body “to excise this vermin from our body polity, and assert our liberty from those who pander to base and vicious instincts.”

“With our collective resolve, we shall beat terrorism. Around the world and around the clock, let us be alert. And we would remain free and safe.” he said.

Suicide Bomb Hits Saudi Cities Of Medina, Qatif

Medina, Qatif, Saudi ArabiaA suicide bomb attack has been reported in Saudi Arabia’s city of Medina, close to the Prophet’s Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites.

The Prophet’s Mosque is the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad and Medina the second-holiest city in Islam after Mecca.

There has also been another explosion near a mosque in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Qatif.

A witness said one explosion had destroyed a car parked near the mosque in Qatif as the suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Shia mosque without causing any other injuries.

This was followed by the second explosion just before 7 p.m. local time.

Qatif is known to be home to many of the kingdom’s Shi’ite Muslim minority.

The incident happened just hours after a suicide bomber was killed and two people were wounded in a blast near the U.S. consulate in the kingdom’s second city of Jeddah on Monday.

It was the first bombing in years to attempt to target foreigners in the kingdom.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Jeddah attack.

Islamic State has carried out a series of bombing and shooting attacks in Saudi Arabia since mid-2014 that have killed scores of people, mostly members of the Shi’ite Muslim minority and security services.

First Woman Councillor Elected In Saudi Arabia

First Woman Councillor Elected In Saudi ArabiaFor the first time in Saudi Arabia, a woman has won an election after the kingdom lifted its ban on women’s participation in politics and polls.

Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi won a seat on the municipal council in Mecca province in Saturday’s vote.

Reports also suggested that women have also won in several other regions in the country, including Jeddah and Qatif.

It was the first election where women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates, and is being viewed as a landmark in the conservative kingdom.

However, women in Saudi Arabia still face other public restrictions including driving.

Officials said that a total of 978 women registered as candidates, alongside 5,938 men.

About 130,000 women had registered to vote in Saturday’s poll, compared with 1.35 million men.

Female candidates were also not allowed to address male voters directly during campaigning.

The decision to allow women to take part was taken by the late King Abdullah and is seen as a key part of his legacy.

In announcing the reforms, King Abdullah said women in Saudi Arabia “have demonstrated positions that expressed correct opinions and advice”.

Before he died in January, he appointed 30 women to the country’s top advisory Shura Council.

There were 2,100 council seats available in Saturday’s vote. An additional 1,050 seats were appointed with approval from the king.