After beating 10-man Real Sociedad 1-0 at Camp Nou in the Spanish King’s Cup, Barcelona advanced to the semi-finals.
Despite being superior in the first half, the home team could not score and seized the advantage after Brais Mendez was kicked out in the 40th minute.
Ousmane Dembele gave Blaugrana the lead early in the second half, played by Jules Kounde, who finished off strong after Alex Remiro.
The rivalry between LaLiga’s first- and third-place teams has rarely been as close as the leaderboard suggests, until a late move by Sociedad and Xavi’s men marched in to add one more trophy to their recent Supercopa de Espana success.
Barca started brilliantly and sent the ball into the net in the 11th minute, but Robert Lewandowski’s shot into goal deflected Frenkie de Jong offside as he entered the game.
Dangerous Dembele threatened shortly after, when a determined run ended curling just outside the left post, while Takefusa Kubo hit the crossbar just before half an hour with the visitors’ first attempt.
Borderline ironic cheers came from home fans before halftime when referee Gil Manzano, who kicked Lewandowski out of the game earlier in the season, handed La Real a red card to Mendez when a VAR review showed the midfielder grabbing Sergio Busquets in the ankle. its studs.
In the 52nd minute, Dembele opened up the score when he made a pass from the right side from Kounde before he shot him down the close post from Remiro.
La Real should have been level at the time Alexander Sorloth somehow flipped Kubo’s center over the post at close range, while Gavi slammed into the board at the other end.
Thanks to late Marc-Andre ter Stegen saves to keep Roberto Navarro out of the one-on-one match and then strong driving from Jon Ander Olasagasti, one goal was enough to seal Barca’s last-four pass.
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It may seem strange to talk about a team Lewandowski was in, but for most of the game, the only thing that escaped Barcelona was composure in the final third.
They had a total of 20 shots hitting the target six times, but after gaining a male advantage they seemed to be struggling to knock down their opponents further.
It didn’t matter as they claimed the win in the end with another clean score, but that was also due to Sorloth’s remarkable miss and Ter Stegen’s late saves.
Dembele shines again
It was another day where Dembele proved he could be a key player for this Barca team by building on his amazing season so far.
Besides scoring the winning goal, the France international produced three more important passes than any other player and placed four open half-games in the penalty area.
Toothless Sociedad needs distress to threaten
It was an impressive effort by Imanol Alguacil’s men after knocking a man down, but before Mendez’s dismissal, they didn’t seem to have taken on the task of harassing the hosts.
They’ve only managed one shot before, this was Kubo’s hit on the bar, and they tested Ter Stegen only twice, finishing the game with seven shots on goal.
Important Opta Facts:
– Barcelona have progressed from 15 of 17 draws against Real Sociedad in the Spanish King’s Cup (including three finals), only falling in 1968-1969 and 1979-1980 (both in the last 16).
– Sergio Busquets made his 75th appearance in the Copa del Rey, surpassing Josep Samitier, who had the second most appearances for Barcelona in this tournament. Only Lionel Messi (80) is above him.
– Since the 2006-2007 season, Barcelona have reached the semi-finals of the King’s Cup in 14 of 17 matches, only unsuccessfully in 2009-2010, 2019-2020 and 2021-2022.
– Barcelona are undefeated in their last 12 matches in all lanes (10D 2D), their best run since this January-April 2022 (15 – 11D 4D).
– Dembele (eight goals, seven assists) has scored 15 goals in all competitions with Barcelona this season and has already equalized last season’s record (15 – two goals, 13 assists). Only Lewandowski (27 – 22 goals and 5 assists) has contributed more goals for Barça in 2022-2023 than a France winger.
Barcelona heads to Girona on Saturday, while Real Sociedad is back in LaLiga action for the weekend as it faces Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.