Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique key second-leg romp as Barcelona advance to Copa del Rey semis
BARCELONA, Spain -- Barcelona thumped Sevilla 6-1 at Camp Nou on Wednesday as they recovered from a two-goal first-leg deficit to make the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.
Philippe Coutinho gave Barca the lead on the night with a first-half penalty. Sevilla then had the chance to equalise when they were awarded their own spot kick, but Jasper Cillessen saved from Ever Banega.
Barca remain on course for a fifth consecutive Copa del Rey success after staging another famous comeback. Their performance against Sevilla, as the scoreline suggests, was one of their best of the season.
Gerard Pique was immense, Arthur kept things ticking over and Messi was Messi. Even Coutinho, lacking confidence in recent weeks, showed signs of life, scoring twice in a much-improved performance.
Clutching at straws here: Barca did briefly let Sevilla back into the tie and heading into the 89th minute they were just a conceded goal away from going out. Sevilla also had chances, such as the penalty at 1-0, to score what may have proven a killer away goal if it had arrived earlier. Barca were always going to give up chances, though, given their need to make things happen at the other end.
Manager Rating out of 10
8 --Ernesto Valverde deserves credit not just for his lineup and tactics (which had Barca level in the tie at half-time) but also for his changes. Arturo Vidal came on for Rakitic and sured things up in midfield, while Nelson Semedo replacing Coutinho allowed Sergi Roberto to help Jordi Alba deal with Quincy Promes on the left.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jasper Cillessen, 8 -- Made two stunning saves in the first half: first diving low to his right to keep out Andre Silva and then, moments later, diving to his left to stop Ever Banega's penalty. Could quite possibly be the best No. 2 goalkeeper in the world. That said, he was at fault for Sevilla's goal, giving the ball away with a misplaced pass.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Scored the fourth goal with a decent finish but had looked the weak link in defence until then. Moved into a more advanced position on the left late on to offer more defensive protection than Coutinho was providing.
DF Gerard Pique, 9 -- Gave away the penalty which Cillessen saved but was nearly flawless other than that. Felt like he won every ball in the air and he read the game brilliantly.
DF Clement Lenglet, 7 -- Nowhere near as imposing as Pique on the night but a reliable performance against his old side.
DF Jordi Alba, 7 -- A decent defensive performance up against the pacy Quincy Promes. Also popped up with an assist at the end, crossing beautifully for Suarez to turn home the fifth.
MF Sergio Busquets, 7 -- Drew a couple of "ooo" moments from the crowd with some tidy turns to overcome Sevilla's pressing. Will be missed against Valencia at the weekend as he's suspended.
MF Arthur, 8 -- Brilliant. Never seems to give the ball away and is careful but courageous with his passing. Produced the pass of the night to set up Rakitic's goal.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 -- Another industrious performance and a great run to get on the end of Arthur's pass to double Barca's lead on the night.
FW Lionel Messi, 9 -- Won the penalty, brilliantly set up Sergi Roberto and then capped a fine team move with Barca's sixth goal in stoppage time.
FW Luis Suarez, 8 -- Didn't stop from the first minute until the last. His hold-up play was fantastic and he finally got the goal he deserved in the 89th minute. Also set up goals for Coutinho and Messi.
FW Philippe Coutinho, 7 -- Scored twice in an improved performance but still has room to improve. Converted an early penalty to open the scoring and headed Barca into a three-goal lead in the second half. Still lost the ball too often, though, including in the build-up to Sevilla's goal.
MF Arturo Vidal, N/R -- Came on for Rakitic and helped set up both Suarez and Messi's goals.
DF Nelson Semedo, N/R -- A late introduction in place of Coutinho.
MF Carles Alena, N/R -- Brought on in the final minute of the game for Arthur.