Barcelona in Copa del Rey semifinals for 7th straight season
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 27, 2017 09:46 AM
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, celebrates with his team mate Neymar after scoring a penalty during Copa del Rey, quarter final, second leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi continued his remarkable form by scoring one goal and playing a role in the other four as Barcelona routed Real Sociedad 5-2 Thursday to reach the Copa del Rey semifinals for the seventh straight season.
Denis Suarez struck twice, with Luis Suarez and Arda Turan also scoring at Camp Nou, as the two-time defending champion easily advanced 6-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona won the first leg 1-0 to end a 10-year winless streak at Sociedad's Anoeta Stadium.
The other three teams that advanced were Atletico Madrid, Alaves and Celta Vigo, which eliminated Real Madrid on Wednesday. The semifinal draw takes place Friday.
Messi scored his sixth goal in seven games this year by converting a 55th-minute penalty kick. He helped set up Denis Suarez' opening goal in the 17th and Luis Suarez's goal in the 63rd, and also started the plays that led to Turan's goal in the 80th and Denis Suarez's second goal almost immediately afterward.
"Everybody knows how good Messi is as a passer," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "The players up front just need to get in position and he will find them."
Messi has netted 10 goals in his last 10 games with Barcelona, and 15 goals in the last 15 matches. He already has 29 goals in 27 games this season.
The Argentina playmaker calmly converted the penalty kick with a low, left-footed shot into the right corner after Neymar was fouled inside the area.
"Messi is a very intelligent player and he knows how to hurt you when you give him chances," Real Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristan said. "We tried to create scoring opportunities but it's always risky when you play an open match against Barcelona at Camp Nou. You are subjected to what happened tonight."
Real Sociedad later scored through Juanmi Jimenez in the 62nd and Willian Jose in the 73rd.
"We knew that Real Sociedad had to take some risks because of the result in the first leg," Luis Enrique said. "And with the quality players that we have, we were able to take advantage of the open spaces."
Barcelona will play in the semifinals for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, failing to make it to the last four in 2009-10.
The Catalan club reached the Copa final in six of the last eight seasons — including the last three in a row — and won four of those finals.
Real Sociedad's lone Copa title was in 1987.
Barcelona played without key midfielders Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets because of injuries. Coach Luis Enrique improvised with defender Javier Mascherano, who played midfield earlier in his career. Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes also played in midfield, with the trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez up front as usual.
Mascherano was substituted in the second half because of a muscle problem.
It was the fifth win in a row for Barcelona in all competitions.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni