Friday, 6 January 2017


Copa Del Rey. Athletico 2 - 1 Barcelona.

Barcelona begins the new year 2017 with an away defeat to nine-man Athletico Bilbao on Thursday night as they bid to defend their Copa Del Rey title they won last in 2016.
Luis Enrique picked his strongest side, anxious to get off to a good start in 2017 as the club continue their battle on three fronts [Messi-Neymar-Suarez MSN], althugh the dream of repeatng the treble they earned in 2014-15 season is fading.

Two goals in the first half and two red cards in the second half, Athletic Bilbao earned a tight victory over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey last-16 game. The current Spanish holders didn't get off to the quickest of starts, with Athletic Bilbao making the first incursion when Mikel San Jose nodded wide of the German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's near post.

Aritz Aduriz and Inaki Williams scored twice in first half in the space of three minutes to stun the visitors, but Lionel Messi's superb free-kick helped Barcelona force their way back into the game.
Raul Garcia and Ander Iturraspe were both sent off for fouls on Brazilian star Neymar, who was furious at not being given a penalty too, before Messi struck the post in the last minute of stoppage time to leave Athletic Bilbao with the advantage going into second leg.

Aduriz opened the scoring after 25 minutes, nodding home from close range after Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta gave the ball away in midfield. It was a rare mistake from the playmaker, one capitalised on brillianlty by the striker. Just three minutes later in the 28 minutes, Barcelona were stunned again with a second goal by Inaki Williams when he brilliantly lashed in a right foot shot to beat pass Barcelona goalie Andre ter Stegen.

Lionel Messi got Barcelona back on track in the 52nd minute with a free-kick that Athletic goalie Gorka Iraizoz should have kept out. Gorka pushed the ball onto the crossbar and it bounced into his goal before he clawed it out, with the officials correctly awarding the goal despite his sly attempts to save it.

With 15 minutes to the end of the game, Athletic were reduced to ten men when Raul Garcia fouled Neymar and got booked for the second time then immediately shown the red card. Five minutes later, Andre Iturraspe fouled Neymar and got booked for the second time then shown red card as Athletic were reduced to nine-men as they held on to hold their lead and forced the game to end in their victory.

Barcelona will host Athletic in Camp Nuo next week Wednesday for the second leg of the Copa de Rey last-16. Any result less than two-goals differences in winning for Barcelona will see them crashed out of tournament.



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