Granada and Barcelona locked horns tonight at Los Carmenes to contest a place in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey. It was the Catalan visitors that won out, rallying late to secure a thrilling 5-3 victory that will reassure supporters of their fighting spirit.
Ronald Koeman‘s men were 2-0 down going into the final ten minutes of regular time only for a quick-fire double to draw them level. Then, after a bit of back-and-forth, they went for the jugular in extra-time to secure safe passage.
“It’s incredible,” Koeman said post-match in comments carried by Marca. “Football is incredible. I think we’ve done well. The team has been huge.
“In the last five minutes of regular time, we scored two goals. Then, extra-time was incredible. I don’t know if the penalty was a penalty or not, but our team showed great mentality. Incredible.”
The Dutchman was asked about Angel di Maria’s recent comments, where the Paris Saint-Germain winger spoke about his desire to play with Lionel Messi next season. “It seems to me to be a lack of respect,” Koeman said.
“It’s wrong to say such of thing, especially ahead of the Champions League game. It’s not fair, and I don’t think it’s respectful toward Barcelona to speak like that about a player who’s ours. They talk a lot about Leo, who plays for Barcelona. Besides, we have a tie against them.”
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts. Barcelona dominated the opening exchanges and created chances, but failed to turn the key and get that crucial opening goal.
Granada, however did, seizing on a Samuel Umtiti mistake to tee up Robert Kenedy to put the Andalusians into the lead. Shortly after the second-half got under way, they doubled their advantage. Roberto Soldado beat Umtiti in a footrace before finishing coolly past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The Catalans continued to press, however, and mounted a dramatic late comeback to take the game to extra-time. First, Antoine Griezmann struck to make it 2-1. Then, the Frenchman combined with Lionel Messi to tee up Jordi Alba, who made no mistake in scoring the all-important equaliser right at the death.
The game went into extra-time, with Barcelona getting their noses in front inside ten minutes through Griezmann. This time, the Frenchman was on hand to score a powerful header to make it 3-2 to Barcelona after being teed up by Alba.
Fede Vico then equalised for Granada through a penalty kick only for Frenkie de Jong to put Barcelona back ahead five minutes later. Five minutes after that, a certified golazo from Alba put the blaugrana 5-3 up and sealed their place in the semi-final.