Barca keep Copa del Rey dream alive


FC Barcelona secured a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano to seal a spot in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Captain Lionel Messi was immediately slotted back into the side following his return from suspension, as Neto, Junior Firpo, Clement Lenglet and Francisco Trincao also started.

Messi got stuck in immediately when he delivered a free-kick from the right-side to Frenkie De Jong, who failed to profit after attempting a flick from the far post.

De Jong had another crack at goal before the midway stage as he scooped a cross from Firpo following good work by Messi over the goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski and onto the crossbar.

Rayo were rescued by the crossbar again ten minutes to the interval following a shot from close-range by Trincao with Dimitrievski in no man’s land.

A free-kick from the edge of the area two minutes from the restart saw Messi curl the resultant attempt onto the top of the woodwork, as Rayo lived on the edge yet again.

The host hit the front against the run of play midway through the second half when a handling error from Neto from a cross by Alvaro Garcia allowed Francisco Garcia to tap home at the far post.

This forced the hand of Ronald Koeman who on 68 minutes decided to throw on Ousmane Dembele for Trincao and Pedri for Firpo.

And coincidentally the equaliser came a minute later through Messi, who ran to the far post to tap in a cross-field ball from Antoine Griezmann.

The comeback was completed ten minutes to the end after De Jong made a run into the middle of the area to finish off a ball from Jordi Alba.

Barcelona threatened for a third goal in stoppage time through a shot off the side-netting from Messi, but in the end 2-1 was how it finished as the cup dream remains alive.