Barcelona, Osasuna advance to Copa del Rey semifinals

Sports Desk, Jan 25 (EFE).- FC Barcelona are through to the semifinals of the Copa del Rey after a 1-0 victory Wednesday against Real Sociedad, who played more than half the game with 10 men.

Osasuna, however, needed extra-time to get the better of Sevilla for their first Copa del Rey quarterfinal triumph in 18 years.

Ousmane Dembele put the hosts ahead early in the second half and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a pair of impressive saves in the final minutes to keep alive the Blaugrana’s pursuit of a record-extending 32nd title in the competition.

Though winless in their last 31 matches at Camp Nou, Sociedad walked off the pitch with their heads held high after making the current LaLiga leaders work hard for their semifinal berth.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez stuck with the same starting 11 that beat archrivals Real Madrid 3-1 in the Spanish Super Cup final and the home side put on a dazzling display for their supporters in the first half.

Robert Lewandowski put the ball in the Sociedad net in the 11th minute, only to see the goal disallowed because teammate Frenkie de Jong was in an offside position when the ball struck him en route.

And Dembele, the man of the match, created several chances before the visitors’ first shot of the night, a strike at the half-hour by Take Kubo that bounced off the cross-bar.

The contest took a fateful turn in the 38th minute, when Sociedad’s Brais Mendez stood on the leg of Sergio Busquets.

The referee showed Mendez a yellow card, but the yellow turned to red after a VAR review and Sociedad found themselves down a man with five minutes left in the first half.

Dembele broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute, surprising Sociedad keeper Alex Remiro, who expected the Frenchman to pass to the onrushing Lewandowski.

Alexander Sorloth had golden opportunity to equalize at the hour, but fired over the cross-bar. At the other end, the cross-bar denied Barcelona’s Gavi eight minutes later.

Remiro thwarted Dembele’s bid for a second goal in the 77th minute. For Sociedad, late sub Robert Navarro forced a save from Ter Stegen in the 88th and the German delivered again in stoppage time with a save against Jon Ander Olasagasti.

In Pamplona, the visitors started with more ambition against a visibly nervous Osasuna squad, and Sevilla would end the 120-plus minutes with 67 percent possession and 19 attempts, compared with a dozen for the hosts.

Osasuna improved after the break and only a phenomenal save by Yassine Bounou prevented Chimy Avila from giving the home side the advantage early in the second half.

The Moroccan keeper couldn’t stop Avila in the 71st, but Youssef En-Nesyri brought Sevilla level in the 94th minute to force extra-time.

Though the momentum seemed to be with the visitors, Abde Ezzalzouli reclaimed the lead for Osasuna in the 99th minute with a goal on the counter and the Basque side hung on to win. EFE vmc-le/dr

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