It was one of the most thrilling matches this year till now. From the jaws of defeat, Barcelona ended the night smiling, and the way they played and fought one could sense that the Catalan club is coming back to their winning habits slowly and steadily. Granada almost pulled the rabbit out of the hat, but the fighters of Ronald Koeman settled the issues with an outstanding victory and claimed a place in the semifinals of Copa del Rey.

Koeman has finally lit the blue touch paper and tapped into something.

The Barca momentum is building.

After returning from his long-term injury over the weekend Sergi Roberto and Trincao were included in the starting XI. Neto also found himself on the bench after having started the previous two cup affairs, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen given the nod.

Barca were the better team in the first half, attacking from the start with purpose and creativity and having very few issues finding spaces against a shaky Granada defence. Barca dominated at times and threw a lot of shots towards the Granada goal, but the cutting edge was missing and always missed the final ball to create a truly big chance.

Lionel Messi was hungry to find the net, but the Catalans couldn’t find a way to score and paid for it: after a moment of confusion at the back Barca simply failed to clear the ball away, and Soro found himself in space inside the box and crossed it to Kenedy at the far post for a tap-in and Granada’s opening goal – it was against the run of play.

There was still plenty of time for Barcelona to regroup, but at the start of the second half, they had a real reason to worry after going down 2-0 when a long ball hoofed up-field sailed over the head of Umtiti and to the streaking Soldado, who finished for the goal.

Barcelona’s bad night took another sour turn when an injury forced the recently recovered Sergi Roberto from the pitch with Sergino Dest taking his place.

Right after Trincao came close to breaking through with a shot that left the crossbar shaking, Koeman made his next changes, with Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite on for Trincao and Umtiti, followed later by Riqui Puig for Sergio Busquets.

Aaron continued excellent display with arguably his best save of the night with a one-handed parry of an overhead kick from Griezmann, followed later by a Dembele curler that also hit the crossbar.

All signs pointed to Granada seeing things out thanks to an invincible Aaron, but things took a drastic turn in the final minutes.

It started with an inch-perfect pass from Messi for Griezmann, whose shot hit the post, deflecting onto Aaron’s leg and rolling into the goal to make it a 2-1 score-line.

Moments after a Messi shot hit the post, the Messi-Griezmann connection would strike gold, with Messi floating a pass to Griezman, who headed back to a wide-open Alba and the left-back steered a header into the net to improbably pull Barcelona even 2-2.

Granada were just three minutes away from glory, but Griezmann sowed the seed for an epic comeback.

Things were just as heart-stopping in the additional 30 minutes!

The momentum was all Barcelona’s and they grabbed their first lead of the night at the 100-minute mark, with Alba serving up a cross from the left and Griezmann thumping home a header for Barcelona to make it 3-2.

The joy was short-lived though, with Dest foolishly pushing Carlos Neva from behind in the Barcelona area and Fede Vico calmly converting the penalty to pull Granada level at 3-3.

Back things went toward Barcelona in the second period of extra time, as Aaron was unable to control a shot from Messi, and De Jong was there to turn in the rebound to hand Barcelona a 4-3 advantage.

Alba then added the finishing touch with a classy finish with a left-footed volley off an outside-of-the-foot pass from Griezmann to complete the 5-3 score-line.

What a marvelous performance Barcelona!

Granada will feel extremely hard done by having been just two minutes away from sending the Blaugranes tumbling out of the competition and, arguably, ending their season in early February.


Their backs-against-the-wall performance was confidence-boosting before the all important clash against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

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