Barcelona beat Segunda side Rayo Vallecano 2-1 this evening at Vallecas to progress to the quarter-final of the Copa del Rey.
The competition is more important than usual to Barcelona given they’re off the pace in La Liga and unconvincing in Europe.
“We played well,” Ronald Koeman said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “We played our match. The opponent did things well, but despite this we created quite a few clear opportunities.
“After going 1-0 down, we reacted well and won the match. We were even able to score more goals. The most important thing is that we have won the tie.”
Barcelona’s matchwinner, Frenkie de Jong, is thriving in his new, more advanced, midfield role. “We need him,” Koeman said.
“We need our midfielders to be offensive, and he helps build from the back. We’ve spoken with him to help his offensive game and score more than one goal per season. He’s more complete now than when he played for Ajax.”
Barcelona dominated the opening stages, hitting the woodwork three times in the opening hour. It was Rayo, however, who drew first blood, Francisco Garcia scoring in the 62nd minute to put them into a shock lead.
It lasted just seven minutes, however, before Lionel Messi, returning after serving suspension following his red card in the Supercopa final, scored after being teed up by Antoine Griezmann to get Barcelona back on level terms.
De Jong then put his team in the lead ten minutes later, finishing off an excellent move involving Messi and Jordi Alba to make it 2-1 and put the Catalan giants into the final eight.