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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Copa del Rey: Griezmann, Brahim brace help Barcelona, Real Madrid reach last 16

Antoine Griezmann scored two late goals to save Barcelona from an embarrassing loss against third-division club Ibiza as the Spanish giant came from behind to win 2-1 in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey.

By: AP | Published: January 23, 2020 9:53:00 am
Griezmann scored two late goals to save Barcelona from an embarrassing loss. (Source: AP)

Antoine Griezmann scored two late goals to save Barcelona from an embarrassing loss against third-division club Ibiza on Wednesday as the Spanish giant came from behind to win 2-1 in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey.

Ibiza took an early lead and held on until Griezmann came through with goals in the 72nd minute and in stoppage time.

Barcelona was without many regular starters _ including Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets _ for the game played on artificial turf at the small Can Misses Stadium in the Balearic Islands.

It was the second match in charge for new Barcelona coach Quique Setien, who had debuted with a 1-0 win over Granada in the Spanish league last weekend.

The Copa del Rey is being played with single-elimination games this season, except in the semifinals.

The hosts took a surprising early lead and came close to scoring again before the break. Barcelona’s ball possession reached 85% at one point, but it hardly threatened in attack, creating few significant chances.

The team’s first shot on target was in the 68th, a low strike by Ivan Rakitic that was easily saved by the Ibiza goalkeeper.

The second shot was Griezmann’s equalizer from inside the area after a nice throughball by Frenkie De Jong. Griezmann’s winner was a low show into the far corner four minutes into stoppage time.

Javi Perez had opened the scoring for the hosts after sloppy defending by youngster Riqui Puig following a breakaway in the ninth minute.

Ibiza thought it had increased the lead less than 10 minutes later, but Angel Rodado’s goal was ruled out for a foul by him on defender Clement Lenglet. The hosts threatened again a few minutes before halftime, when Rai Nascimento hit the post from inside the area and Rodado’s close-range shot from the rebound forced Barcelona goalkeeper Neto to make a difficult reflex save.

The home crowd of less than 10,000 that packed the Can Misses loudly celebrated the team’s provisional lead after the halftime whistle. Some 2,000 temporary seats were added to the venue for Wednesday’s match.

Barcelona won four consecutive Copa titles before losing last year’s final to Valencia. The Catalan club is the competition’s most successful team with 30 titles.

BRAHIM BRACE STEERS REAL MADRID PAST UNICONISTAS

Real Madrid earned a hard-fought 3-1 win over Spanish third-tier Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday to reach the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.

Gareth Bale broke the deadlock with a deflected effort in the 18th minute on his return from illness which kept him out of the Spanish Super Cup and James Rodriguez hit the bar later in the first half at Las Pistas.

Alvaro Romero brilliantly levelled in the 57th minute to delight home fans. However, their joy was short-lived as Brahim Diaz struck five minutes later.

The former Manchester City attacker netted again at the death to seal Zinedine Zidane’s team’s progress in the revamped cup competition.

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