Barça come from behind against Granada to reach Copa del Rey semis

Granada, Spain, Feb 3 (efe-epa).- Barcelona battled back from a 2-0 deficit here Wednesday in their Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Granada to prevail 3-5 in extra time.

Despite their having only 21 percent possession, the hosts led with two minutes left in regulation on goals by Robert Kenedy and Roberto Soldado.

But Antoine Griezmann pulled back a goal from what looked like an impossible angle in the 88th minute and Jordi Alba brought Barça level four minutes later to force extra time.

Griezmann put the Blaugrana ahead in the 100th minute, only to see Fede Vico equalize for Granada from the penalty spot minutes later.

That would turn out to be the last gasp for the hosts, as Frenkie de Jong and Alba scored in the second overtime to book Barça’s berth in the final four.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman signaled how seriously he took the match by sticking with starting goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and making only three changes to the lineup from last weekend’s LaLiga clash with Athletic Bilbao.

Counterpart Diego Martinez took the opposite tack. He fielded a side with seven substitutions, including in goal, where backup Aaron Escandell filled in for Rui Silva.

Escandell repaid his coaches faith with three saves in the opening 10 minutes, denying Ronald Araujo, Lionel Messi and Francisco Trincao.

Granada struggled to hang onto the ball for more than a few seconds at time, yet Antonio Puertas threatened Ter Stegen’s goal mid-way through the first half before Escandell was tested again by Messi – on a free kick – and Araujo.

Samuel Umtiti’s giveaway in the 31st minute led to Kenedy’s goal, assisted by Alberto Soro.

And only a poor finish by Kenedy spared Barcelona from going behind 2-0 minutes later after a defensive lapse by Araujo.

The second goal for Granada came just two minutes into the second half. Soldado took a great pass from Angel Montoro and blew past Umtiti before beating Ter Stegen one-on-one.

Barça flew forward, but found less open space in the Granada zone.

Escandell came up with another outstanding save against Messi at the hour mark, while a subsequent blast from Trincao bounced off the cross-bar.

The Granada keeper went on to stop an overhead strike from Griezmann and another Messi effort before finally conceding to the French international.

Messi hit the post seconds later and initiated the play that resulted in Alba’s equalizer.

Escandell thwarted Messi and Martin Braithwaite in the opening minutes of the first extra time, but couldn’t stop Griezmann’s thunderous header to give Barcelona its first lead of the contest.

Granada reacted and Sergiño Dest fouled Carlos Neva in the area to allow Vico to level the match at 3-3 from the spot.

Three minutes into the second extra time, Escandell failed to control Messi’s strike from distance and De Jong pounced on the loose ball to give Barça a 3-4 edge.

Alba, with an assist from Griezmann, sealed the win in the 113th minute.

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