Sports Monks

Barcelona score five goals in just 18 minute comeback to reach Copa del Rey semis

Barcelona scored five goals in 18 minutes to turn this Copa del Rey quarter-final – and just maybe their entire season – on its head.

Antoine Griezmann scored twice and set up two, Jordi Alba scored his first brace ever for the club, and Lionel Messi pulled out a vintage performance when his team most needed it.

Ronald Koeman can still win a trophy, in fact he is now just two games from doing it. And all that, having been two minutes from going out of the cup, trailing 2-0 to Granada. 

The shadow of a second season without a trophy was looming large over Barcelona at that point. They are 10 points behind in LaLiga remember and unfancied in the Champions League.

This was Koeman’s best chance of leading them to silverware but with two horrible defensive errors they were heading out.

The Dutch coach had looked furious on the touchline in the first half watching the latest accident unfold.

Sergio Busquets was playing with fire sending a ball back towards his own area when it was heavily populated by Granada players. 

When it reached Samuel Umtiti the situation went code red.

In a tight situation with no way out he should have got rid of the ball at all costs but he delayed in possession and Soro nicked the ball from him and squared it to Kenedy who got in front of Sergio Roberto in the six-yard box and finished past Marc Andre ter Stegen.

Barcelona had gone behind in 13 previous games this season and in only three of them had they been able to come back and win, this did not look like becoming comeback number four when things went from bad to worse at the restart. 

Umtiti was at fault again. First Griezmann gave the ball away midway inside the Granada half. And in one pass over the top Barcelona were completely exposed.

It was 35-year-old Roberto Soldado racing away and Umtiti struggling in his wake. Soldado drilled the ball past Ter Stegen and it was 2-0. 

Umtiti has overcome long-term knee problems and in the weekend win over Athletic Bilbao had looked like he might be getting back to his best. This looked like one game too many inside three days.

Koeman began to ring the changes. The first was forced with Sergio Roberto limping off. Umtiti was also taken off and Francisco Trincao went with him, with Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite coming on.

Trincao had struggled to make an impact, forever coming inside and stepping on Messi’s toes. He had at least finished on a high hitting the crossbar.

Messi had also gone close, forcing Aaron Escandell to save well to his left with a shot set-up for him by the impressive Pedri.

Messi then won a free-kick on the edge of the area and when it cannoned off the wall Barcelona won their 12th corner. Granada had not won a single corner, but they had their two goals. 

Escandell struck once more saving Griezmann’s bicycle kick and Dembele rattled the crossbar with Escandell for once beaten and only three minutes left.

Just as it seemed as if Barcelona wouldn’t score if they kept playing all night Griezmann hooked in Messi’s long diagonal with the ball cannoning off of Escandell and over the line.

Messi then shook the frame of the goal again with a shot that came back off the post. For the third time on the night Barcelona had hit the woodwork, and surely now with the their last chance.

Griezmann had other ideas and he crossed one more time for Jordi Alba to get the equaliser with the last breath of normal time.

El Prinicipito was flying now and he scored at the start of added time rising to head home Jordi Alba’s cross to make it 3-2. Sure that would be only one winner.

Barcelona heads were soon back in hands before the break when Sergino Dest was harshly adjudged to have fouled Carlos Neva and Fede Vico beat Ter Stegen from the spot to send the game within 15 minutes of penalties.

But Messi, who had been on a mission to make sure Barcelona stayed in the Copa del Rey since Barcelona conceded the second goal, fired another shot goal-wards and when Escandell pushed it out Frenkie de Jong scored from the rebound, 4-3. 

Barcelona didn’t need another but they scored one anyway.

Griezmann picked out Alba once more and he put his foot through the ball to volley Barcelona into the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

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