Barcelona’s two-year reign as Copa del Rey holders is in jeopardy after they lost to nine-man Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at a packed San Mames on Thursday.
Athletic played a man down from the 74th minute and two men down from the 80th because of red cards in a drama-filled first leg in the round-of-16.
Aritz Aduriz scored and set up another goal in the first half for Athletic, before Lionel Messi scored for Barcelona from a free-kick early in the second half.
Messi hit the post from inside the penalty area three minutes into stoppage-time, with Paco Alcacer missing the open net from the rebound.
“We reacted well and deserved a draw for all the chances we created,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “We just lacked that touch of precision in front of goal.”
Athletic beat Barcelona for only the third time in 32 matches over the past 10 years. In that period, Barcelona have beaten Athletic in three Copa del Rey finals, won their past three La Liga matches and won both legs of their quarter-final last year, but a draw next week in the second leg at the Camp Nou would be enough to send Athletic to the quarter-finals.
“We are happy,” Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We earned a small advantage and we will try to maintain it in the second leg.”
Athletic took control early as Aduriz’s header opened the scoring in the 25th minute and Inaki Williams padded the lead after a pass by Aduriz in the 28th.
Messi pulled Barcelona closer by converting a free-kick in the 52nd minute, with the ball just barely crossing the line after an attempted save by Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.
Second yellow cards for midfielders Raul Garcia and Ander Iturraspe reduced Athletic, who then had to endure a siege by the visitors.
Athletic’s only loss at San Mames this season was against Barcelona in their first home game in La Liga. Since then, they have won 11 games and drawn one.
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there
Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League. Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league. Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year. The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and
HOTSHOT: Luis Suarez scored his 194th goal for Barca, tying him with Ladislao Kubala as the club’s third-highest scorer, behind Cesar Rodriguez and Lionel Messi With another decisive penalty from Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid on Sunday extended their perfect run after the COVID-19 suspension and moved closer to their first Spanish title in three years. Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed as Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to maintain a four-point lead over Barcelona, who beat fifth-placed Villarreal 4-1. Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were among the scorers for Barcelona after assists from Lionel Messi. Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty to give Madrid their seventh straight victory and they remain the only team with a perfect record since La Liga resumed. “These three points are very