MADRID (AP) – Frenkie de Jong scored the winning goal after Lionel Messi helped set up two goals in the closing minutes to force extra time as Barcelona reached the Copa del Rey semifinals with a victory for 5-3 over Granada on Wednesday.
Barcelona trailed 2-0 in the 88th minute before Messi helped create goals for Antoine Griezmann and Jordi Alba as the Catalan club kept alive their chance to end their title drought.
There were more changes in extra time, as a firm header from Griezmann in the 100th minute put Barcelona ahead, but a penalty from American defender Sergiño Dest led to Fede Vico’s draw for the hosts three minutes later.
De Jong definitely put Barcelona ahead from close range after Messi’s shot was stopped at 108. Alba closed the scoring with a beautiful pass volley from Griezmann at 113.
The victory came on the heels of the embarrassing leak of Messi’s billionaire contract on Sunday, the latest mess involving the club, which is mired in debt and has been enduring political turmoil since last season.
Barcelona failed to win a title last season, which had not happened since 2007-2008. He was eliminated in the Cup quarter-finals last year to end a streak of nine consecutive semi-final appearances.
Grenada’s late collapse cost the team a chance to reach the semifinals for the second consecutive season.
Barcelona had already needed an extension to overcome third division Cornellá in the round of 32. He also played extra time in both of this year’s Spanish Super Cup games: a win against Real Sociedad in the semifinals and a loss to Athletic Bilbao in the final. final.
Robert Kenedy opened the scoring for the hosts at point-blank range in the 33rd after a blunder by Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti, who misplayed a ball inside the area. Former Real Madrid striker Roberto Soldado, 35, joined the lead on a breakaway at 47, beating Umtiti on a long pass from the back.
Francisco Trincão and Ousmane Dembélé hit the crossbar in the second half before Griezmann approached the Catalan club with an angled shot from a long pass from Messi at 88. Messi found Griezmann again inside the area with a well-placed pass, and the French striker set up Alba’s late draw two minutes into injury time.
LEVANTE WINS LATE
Roger Martí scored a winning goal in the 120th minute as Levante beat Villarreal 1-0 in extra time to reach the semifinals for the first time in 86 years.
Levante did not reach the four finalists since 1935, when it was eliminated by Sabadell, currently in the Second Division.
Unai Emery’s Villarreal, who dominated most of the game, were also trying to reach the semi-finals for the second time in their history.
Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid were eliminated in previous rounds this season.
On Tuesday, Sevilla became the first team to reach the quarter-finals with a win over second-division Almería. Real Betis and Athletic meet this Thursday in the last semifinal.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.