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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Barcelona Late Comeback Stun Sevilla to Reach Copa del Rey Final

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Trailing 2-0 to Sevilla entering the home leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals, Barcelona forced extra time through Gerard Pique’s goal at the death and then won it on Martin Braithwaite’s header in the added time to reach the final. Either Levante or Athletic Bilbao will be the opponent. They’ll play the second leg of their semifinal on Thursday, tied 1-1 on aggregate.

Ousmane Dembele kick-started the comeback early with a sensational goal, rifling a right-foot blast from outside the box into the upper left-hand corner to cut Sevilla’s aggregate lead to 2-1.

Barcelona nearly leveled in sensational fashion through Jordi Alba, whose karate-like volley pinged off the crossbar.

Sevilla missed its chance to put the tie to bed when Lucas Ocampos had his penalty saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and, with Sevilla reduced to 10 men after Fernando’s second yellow card, Pique became the man of the moment deep into stoppage time, when he headed in Antoine Griezmann’s cross. That made it 2-2 on aggregate, with Barcelona matching Sevilla’s 2-0 first leg win on the strength of goals from Jules Kounde and former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

It didn’t take long for Barcelona to go ahead, with Braithwaite’s header off Jordi Alba’s assist securing the advantage five minutes into extra time. Prior to the break in between extra 15-minute sessions, Luuk de Jong saw red, reducing Sevilla to just nine men.

It’s been a competition of comebacks and drama for Barcelona, which required extra time to get by third-tier Cornellà in the round of 32. Dembele and Braithwaite scored the goals after the sides played to a 0-0 draw through regulation.

A comeback was required in the last 16 vs. Rayo Vallecano, which led, 1-0, until Lionel Messi scored in the 69th minute and Frenkie de Jong followed in the 80th.

The most remarkable of the bunch came in the quarterfinals, with Barcelona trailing Granada, 2-0, in the 88th minute. Griezmann and Jordi Alba scored four minutes apart, though with Barça forcing extra time with the latter’s stoppage-time volley. Griezmann put Barcelona up in extra time before Granada equalized on a penalty kick, but de Jong and Jordi Alba tacked on the match-winners to keep Barcelona alive.

The club will hope its comeback streak continues next week in the Champions League round of 16, when it heads to Paris looking to overturn a 4-1 deficit to PSG in their second leg.

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