A freak own goal helped Barcelona to a comfortable 2-0 win over 10-man Real Sociedad, taking a huge step towards the Copa Del Rey final.
Tata Martino’s men held a 1-0 advantage, with Inigo Martinez sent off for dissent, before a bizarre own goal, as Gorka Elustondo smashed a clearance off the keeper Enaut Zubikarai and into his own net.
Sociedad were presented with a glorious chance to take a surprise lead, but Pinto pulled off a great save with his outstretched leg to deny Carlos Vela, who had broken forward on the counter. Replays showed that the Mexican might have been fouled, with Javier Mascherano pulling Vela back as he shot.
But Barcelona had the lead a matter of seconds later, when Sergio Busquets turned home Pedro’s initial shot at the back post. And things got worse for Sociedad when Martinez was shown red for his protests over the Vela foul.
The Catalans doubled their lead through Zubikarai’s unfortunate own goal. Alexis Sanchez struck the post after being slotted through by Cesc Fabregas, but when the rebound fell to Elustondo he slammed the ball into the keeper, ending up in the net.
11’ CHANCE – Fabregas should score! Alves passes the ball across the face of the goal, with a deflection taking it into the path of the former Arsenal man, but he can't beat the keeper and has to settle for a corner.
12’ SITTER – Sanchez should score! A shot from long range tests Zubikarai, but he palms the ball straight out to the Chilean forward six yards out. But somehow he manages to put his shot into the side netting. Oh dear.
27’ ANOTHER SITTER – Messi misses a sitter! Yup, you've read that right. Messi meets Fabregas' cross on the volley forcing Zubikarai into a good save low down but it looks like all he has to do is tap in the rebound. But he scuffs it into the keeper. Terrible effort!
38’ WOODWORK – Messi hits the bar! The Barcelona number 10 curls a magnificent freekick towards goal but it hits the crossbar and bounces away. That deserved a goal. What a fantastic effort on goal. The bar is still shaking.
42’ HUGE SAVE – Huge save by Pinto! Sociedad come out on the counter attack, with Vela leaving Mascherano for dead, but when he gets into a one-on-one situation he sees his sidefooted shot saved by the outstretched leg of Pinto.
43’ GOAL – Crucial goal for the Catalans! The midfielder finishes into the empty net following a spot of pinball inside the penalty area.
44’ RED CARD – Sociedad have been reduced to 10 men! I must confess I didn't see the incident and both the Barca and Sociedad players seem shocked by the decision. Was it something he said to the referee?
60’ GOAL - Where do I begin with this? Fabregas slots through Sanchez, who hits the post. But when the ball comes out to Elustondo he smashes the ball off his own keeper and into the net!
Xavi is now the player with the most wins (430) for any one club in the history of Spanish football, overtaking Raul’s record with Real Madrid.
Barcelona have been the benefactor of three own goals in this year’s Copa Del Rey, Sanchez (Cartagena), Juanfran (Levante), Zubikarai (Sociedad).
Sergio Busquets scored his first ever goal in a Copa Del Rey game at his 33rd attempt.
TALKING POINT – What’s the matter with Lionel Messi? The little Argentinian might still be recovering his match fitness but he appears to be a shadow of the player that led Barca to the top of La Liga before his injury. Martino seems to be playing his as a deeper-lying playmaker. Is that the problem? Or is it down to fitness?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad): Not often a player on the losing team deserves man of the match but Vela caused Barcelona problems in the first half like few players can. His pace was a thorn in the side of Pique and Mascherano and he should have scored, or been awarded a penalty, just before Barca took the lead.
Barcelona: Pinto 7, Alves 6, Pique 5, Mascherano 4, Alba 6, Busquets 6, Xavi 5, Fabregas 6, Sanchez 6, Pedro 6, Messi 5. Subs: Iniesta 5.
Real Sociedad: Zubikarai 7, Zaldua 6, Ansotegi 5, Gonzalez 2, Martinez 2, Jose Angel 6, Elustondo 3, Gaztanaga 5, Zurutuza 5, Griezmann 6, Vela 7. Subs: Martinez 5, Canales 5.