Barca win Copa de Rey first-leg semifinal at home

Madrid, Feb 6: FC Barcelona are clear favourites to qualify for the final of the Copa del Rey after a 2-0 first-leg win at home against Real Sociedad.

Sergio Busquets and an own goal from Real Sociedad goalkeeper, Enuat Zubikarai gave Barca a 2-0 lead Wednesday to take to San Sebastian next week, reports Xinhua.

Kicking off in front of less than 39,000 fans in the Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona immediately showed their defensive frailties when a Real Sociedad counter-attack left Antoine Griezman clean through on goal.

The young Frenchman produced a powerful shot, but Jose Pinto responded well in the Barca goal.

It was a frantic start to the game and Barca also created chances with Messi almost providing a finish before Alexis Sanchez prodded wide for Barca when it looked easier to score.

Real Sociedad then lost central defender Mikel Gonzalez to a side injury as the game remained open but with few chances.

Messi then saw a free-kick rattle the Real Sociedad crossbar from the edge of the penalty area as Barca enjoyed 82 percent of possession.

Things changed in the last minute of the half, just after Pinto had produced another save to deny Vela, who had gone clean through on goal and would have scored had Javier Mascherano not been pulling his arm.

Directly afterwards Sergio Busquets fired Barca ahead with a rare goal following a corner and referee Gonzalez Gonzalez sent off visiting defender Inigo Martinez for complaining about his failure to give Real Sociedad what should have been a clear penalty.

With a player less, it was always going to be tough for the visitors in the second half, but they didn’t help themselves with a bizarre own goal to make it 2-0.

Fabregas put Alexis through and the Chilean should have scored but hit the post. Real Sociedad defender Gorka Elustondo had the chance to clear for a corner kick, but decided to blast the ball with the misfortune that his clearance hit Zubikarai in the chest and bounced into the net.

The rest of the game was a survival exercise for Real Sociedad, but it says a lot about Barca’s current form that despite their numerical advantage they were unable to create clear chances to add what would have been a decisive third.

IANS