Messi is hungry for another Copa


26 January, 2018 16:09 PM

Messi is hungry for another Copa

A- A A+

Barcelona overcame last week's 1-0 first leg defeat to eliminate Espanyol 2-1 on aggregate from the Copa del Rey quarter-finals with a 2-0 second leg victory on Thursday night at the Camp Nou.

First-half goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi proved to be enough to send Barcelona to the semi-finals. It was the Argentine who unsurprisingly led the effort. Perhaps inspired by the pre-match ceremony for countryman Javier Mascherano, Messi bossed the game with a pair of steals that resulted in each goal.

Manager Ernesto Valverde restored midfielder Andres Iniesta and forward Suarez to his starting XI. Meanwhile, new arrival Philippe Coutinho also made his Barcelona debut, replacing Iniesta in the second-half.

Barcelona came out strong and even before the clock had ticked onto double-digits, they had evened the series. Messi played a ball down the right flank to Aleix Vidal, whose cross was perfect for Suarez to head in for the 1-0 lead.

The hosts were feeling it, and Messi made it 2-0 in the match and 2-1 in the tie when he took advantage of some lackadaisical Espanyol defending and fired a left-footer that took a deflection and rolled in.

Suarez and Messi each had chances to make it three before the break but were unable to connect. Still, it was a very solid half of football from the holders.

All Espanyol needed though was a goal and so Barcelona were keen to make it three. Messi nearly struck early in the half but was unable to convert past Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

Valverde then turned to his bench and brought on Paulinho and Coutinho for Vidal and Iniesta, respectively. The incorporation of the two Brazilians re-energised the Barcelona attack, but Pau Lopez managed to keep the Pericos within reach with back-to-back saves.

Espanyol had a shout for a late penalty when Jordi Alba looked like he pushed Gerard Moreno from behind, but referee Mateu Lahoz thought otherwise and replays later showed that it had taken place outside the area.

Messi came achingly close to his second goal of the evening to settle the tie, but struck the post just minutes from full-time. Nevertheless, the Argentine's goal from earlier was the difference-maker in the end.

Barcelona return to action in LaLiga on Sunday at home versus Alaves.