Gerard Pique scored at the death and Martin Braithwaite notched an extra time goal to send Barcelona to the 2020-21 Copa del Rey Final with a dramatic 3-0 victory over Sevilla in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou in Barcelona.
Ousmane Dembele fired in a goal early in the first half to pull Barcelona to within a goal on aggregate, however the Catalonians were unable to find a second until the waning moments thanks to Pique’s heroics via header. Barcelona then took advantage of playing a man up and tallied the decisive goal through Braithwaite to punch their ticket to the Final, 3-2 on aggregate.
On the heels of his team’s impressive weekend performance in Sevilla in league play, Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman opted for the same starting XI featuring three centre-backs. It also meant that Pedri, once thought to be out with the injury suffered on Saturday, was deemed healthy enough to play.
Barcelona stormed out of the gates and after a couple early looks for Dembele, the France international broke through by collecting a ball, turning away from the Sevilla defence and curling a right-footed shot that took a slight deflection before landing inside the net for a 1-0 Barcelona lead.
Barcelona kept their foot on the gas in search of a second goal to level the tie, while Sevilla either used a high line of pressure in the Barcelona half to try to force a giveaway or waited to strike on the counter-attack from their own half.
After a very strong first half, Barcelona reverted back to the slow-developing football that has been plaguing them for much of the season and were unable to penetrate Sevilla’s low block.
Koeman’s first change saw the out-of-favour Antoine Griezmann come on for Sergino Dest with a little less than a half-hour to go. That led to the first big scoring opportunity of the second half, with Dembele floating a ball across and Jordi Alba acrobatically hammering a volley off the crossbar.
Barcelona were committing numbers forward and leaving themselves vulnerable in the back, and that approach would prove costly as a Sevilla break ended with Oscar Mingueza obstructing Lucas Ocampos in the Barcelona area, resulting in a penalty. However, Barcelona were rescued by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who guessed correctly and smothered the spot kick taken by Ocampos.
Koeman went back to his bench for a spark, as youngster Ilaix replaced Sergio Busquets, while Junior Firpo replaced yellow-carded Mingueza, followed minutes later by Braithwaite and Trincao on for Pedri and Dembele.
That set the stage for a dramatic finale, with Barcelona throwing everything at Sevilla. Right when it looked like Sevilla would survive, Pique would put on his Superman cape and redirect a Griezmann cross into net via header to dramatically force extra time with a 2-2 draw on aggregate.
Fernando had been sent off with a second yellow card in the added time, so not only did Barcelona force the extra session, but they started it with a man advantage. Barcelona went right to work to make it count and soon enough it was 3-2 on aggregate with Braithwaite heading in a Jordi Alba cross.
Controversy arose midway through the extra time when Sevilla howled for a handball on Clement Lenglet in the area, but a check with VAR left the Andalusians empty-handed. Sevilla never stopped fighting, making for some very nervy moments for the few Barcelona partisans in the stadium, but in the end the hosts would see out the final minutes to put themselves 90 minutes away from a trophy.