Barcelona travelled to nearby UD Cornella this evening on red alert. Fresh from their Supercopa de Espana defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao, they were intent on not allowing another upset. They didn’t. They overcame a scare to win 2-0 after extra-time.
Their caution was, of course, heightened by the fact that Real Madrid were dumped out of the Copa del Rey last night by third-tier and ten-man Alcoyano, and that their hosts for the evening, Cornella, had themselves knocked La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid out in the previous round.
Ronald Koeman, speaking post-game in comments carried by Marca, was understandably frustrated by the fact that his team went the distance against such lesser opposition.
“The most important thing is always to get through the tie, but we cannot just be happy because we’ve scored goals,” he said. “We’ve missed two penalties and we have to take more responsibility in these types of matches.
“Again we’ve played 120 minutes, which is important because we’ve played three games like this now. We’ve created opportunities and had two penalties, it can’t be [like this].
“You can’t complain about their effort, but it’s not just running, it’s also being creative and effective. [The lack of this] has cost us a lot today. It cannot be [like this] and it cannot be accepted.
“There’s little to gain and a lot to lose [in games like this]. They played a great game and their goalkeeper was the best player on the pitch, but we had enough chances to have an easier game.
“I understand why they beat Atletico Madrid. They were running until the last second. We have to talk about why we had to play again for 120 minutes [in the dressing room].”
Barcelona dominated the early exchanges, unsurprisingly, but failed to find a way of breaking down their opposition. A chance arose when Ronald Araujo was fouled in the box and a penalty awarded in the 39th minute, only for Miralem Pjanic to see his effort, low and to the left, saved by the goalkeeper.
Ousmane Dembele repeated the trick in the 80th minute, stepping up after Clement Lenglet was fouled. His effort was even worse than Pjanic’s, weak and down the middle. Barcelona would head to extra-time for the third time in just over a week.
Dembele made up for his error, however, just two minutes into extra-time. The French winger received the ball, opened himself up and unleashed a vicious effort past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, too hot to handle.
Cornella had a man sent off late on, Albert Estelles, for a foul on Ronald Araujo, and then Martin Braithwaite put the result beyond all doubt with Barcelona’s second. Pedri broke forward down the right before squaring for the Danish to finish well.