Asensational strike from Ousmane Dembele in extra time helped earn Barcelona a 2-0 victory over Segunda B side Cornella in the 2020/21 Copa del Rey Round of 32 on Thursday night at the Nou Camp Municipal.
The Catalans were their own worst enemy during regulation time, with Miralem Pjanic and Dembele each failing to convert penalties, but the quality of the French winger bore out in the end with a great strike that sunk Cornella’s hopes of recreating Alcoyano’s shock win over Real Madrid a night prior. Marthin Braithwaite added a last-second insurance goal to complete the scoreline.
Ronald Koeman rotated his squad for the affair by making eight changes from the team that lost the Supercopa de Espana final to Athletic Club, with Ilaix Moriba getting a debut in midfield and Riqui Puig being handed a rare start by the Dutch coach.
While Barcelona held the ball for the majority of the time, they were doing little to trouble Ramon Juan and the match began to take on the look of Wednesday’s Alcoyano-Real Madrid stunner. The Segunda B side were resolute in defence and used pressure to create a bottleneck for their illustrious visitors everywhere on the pitch.
Barcelona got a break toward the end of the first half when Estelles caught Ronald Araujo with a high kick in the Cornella area on a freekick, resulting in a penalty. However, Pjanic’s effort from the spot was saved by Ramon.
Koeman did not hesitate to make a change during half-time, with Dembele on for Puig and immediately Barcelona created their best chance of the night from open play, with Griezmann flicked a pass to Martin Braithwaite, whose shot was saved by Ramon.
That was followed by a gilt-edged chance for Griezmann off a clever freekick from Pjanic, only to see the Frenchman fire well over the crossbar.
The spark from Dembele’s entrance did not last long and by midway through the second stanza, Barcelona looked bereft of ideas. Koeman went back to his bench for an answer, bringing on Sergio Busquets and Pedri for Ilaix and Trincao, respectively.
Barcelona looked destined for the same extra time fate as Real Madrid, but another ill-advised high kick from a Cornella defender, this time Pol Moreno on Clement Lenglet, gave Barcelona a second chance from the penalty spot. Yet to Koeman’s dismay, it was deju vu all over again, as Ramon blocked Dembele’s attempt to keep the score at 0-0.
The chances came fast and furious for Barcelona in the closing minutes, with Braithwaite missing badly from close-range before Ramon made a superb save on a twisting Pjanic effort. That was followed by headers for Dembele and Lenglet that narrowly missed the target.
By the start of extra time, Dembele decided enough was enough and inside the first two minutes, the World Cup winner unleashed a powerful, swerving shot that glanced off the fingers of Ramon and into goal to give Barcelona a 1-0 lead.
Konrad de la Fuente was summoned by Koeman to replace Griezmann and the United States international almost opened his account with a right-footed shot that was saved by Ramon.
Barcelona were easily seeing things out and Pedri set up Braithwaite on a silver platter in the final seconds to cap off the 2-0 scoreline and punch their ticket to the next round.
0.- Cornella: Ramon, Ivan Guzman, Pol Moreno, Borja Garcia, Estelles, Kenvin Presa (Aschalew, min. 84), Agus, Dorca, Marcet (Chiki, min. 68), Ontiveros (Gonzalo, min. 68), Eloy (Blanco, min. 97).
2.- Barcelona: Neto; Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Junior; Pjanic, Ilaix (Busquets, min. 74), Riqui (Dembele, min. 46); Trincao (Pedri, min. 74), Braithwaite, Griezmann (Konrad, min. 101).
Goals: 0-1, min. 92: Dembele; 0-2, min. 121: Braithwaite
Referee: Soto Grado (La Rioja). Cards: Riqui Puig (Min. 7) for Barcelona, Estelles (Min. 38) for Cornella, Presa (Min. 57) for Cornella, Agus Medina (Min. 96) for Cornella, Pjanic (Min. 106) for Barcelona, Estelles (Min. 118) for Cornella
Red cards: Estelles (Min. 118) for Cornella
Stadium: Nou Camp Municipal