Lionel Messi scored two targets to steer Barcelona to a Three-2 win at Athletic Bilbao within the Spanish league, whereas Atlético Madrid was ousted from the Copa del Rey by a third-tier facet on Wednesday.
Teenager Pedro “Pedri” González canceled out Iñaki William’s opener for Bilbao earlier than Messi added two targets to safe an away win for Barcelona that lifted it into third place.
Atlético leads the league however misplaced 1-Zero at third-tier Cornellà within the Copa del Rey’s spherical of 32 — a outcome which means Diego Simeone’s facet can focus much more on the La Liga title race.
It is the second yr in a row that Atlético misplaced to a third-tier workforce within the cup competitors, after a 2-1 defeat to Cultural Leonesa.
“Our rivals have performed higher,” Atlético coach Diego Simeone stated. “We had some good attacking strikes, however total our rival (Cornellà) all the time performed higher. They took benefit of the set piece and acquired their objective. It was much more uphill after the sending off. Now we’ve got to search out options.”
Atlético is just not alone in getting caught off-guard. Third-tier sides additionally ousted topflight groups Celta Vigo and Getafe on Tuesday.
However Atlético has been the largest sufferer of the change in format of the Copa del Rey two seasons in the past. Earlier than final season, every spherical was performed over two legs, giving larger golf equipment possibilities to return again at house in the event that they slipped up away. Now, all rounds apart from the semifinals are performed in a single leg on the lower-seeded facet.
Nonetheless, a workforce like Atlético had no enterprise dropping at Cornellà, a membership based mostly in a working-class neighbors on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Atlético is the front-runner to win the league title. It has solely misplaced as soon as in 15 rounds within the Spanish league and is about to face Chelsea within the Champions League’s spherical of 16 in February.
Cornellà, in the meantime, has had a ho-hum season in its group within the third tier, with three wins, two attracts and 4 losses leaving it in seventh place.
Even earlier than the guests misplaced defender Ricardo Sánchez to a second reserving within the 65th minute, they’d not confirmed to be superior.
Cornellà defender Adrian Jiménez scored the sport’s solely objective within the eighth minute from a cross by Agus Medina to the close to publish.
Atlético was by no means snug on Cornellà’s synthetic turf. The closest it got here to equalizing was Saúl Ñíguez’s shot off the woodwork halfway by means of the primary half.
Atlético misplaced heart again José Giménez after he injured his left ankle early on. João Félix additionally left the match within the second half after he damage an ankle.
Cornellà coach Guillermo Fernández instructed Simeone he “was sorry” for the outcome.
“I stated what I felt,” Fernández stated after the match. “For these golf equipment, that are underneath a lot stress, these matches are very uncomfortable. For us as we speak is a special occasion. I stated earlier than the match we would wish to play an distinctive match, and that’s what we did — and we had that little bit of luck we wanted.”
PEDRI & MESSI
Williams gave Marcelino García Toral an ideal begin to his debut match as Bilbao’s new coach within the third minute. The ahead broke free down the left flank, reduce inside Clement Lenglet, and drilled a low shot underneath goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen.
However as soon as Messi and Pedri began to click on, Barcelona dominated the sport apart from a lone objective by Iker Munian within the 90th minute after a poor go by Messi.
Pedri equalized within the 14th when he headed in a ball knocked again by Frenkie de Jong after Messi had met his future into the realm with a exact lob from distance.
The 18-year-old Pedri then turned playmaker when he used a no-look go by rolling the ball backwards to arrange Messi within the 38th.
Messi made it Three-1 within the 62nd by firing a go from Antoine Griezmann off the underside of the bar and into the web.
Messi, who additionally hit the woodwork twice, tarnished his in any other case sensible sport when his poor go was picked off by Bilbao close to the realm, permitting Muniain to attain.
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman praised his workforce and credited the robust play of Pedri and De Jong in midfield.
“It’s all the time essential to have good gamers, above all within the midfield; that’s the place you’ll be able to dictate the sport,” Koeman stated. “With gamers like Frenkie, (Sergio) Busquets, Pedri and Leo (Messi) we all the time had an additional man and so they dictated the sport. Pedri is a type of gamers. I’m not shocked that’s taking part in at an important stage in comparison with the remaining.”