Frenkie de Jong and Jordi Alba scored in the second half of extra time to help earn Barcelona a dramatic 5-3 comeback victory over Granada in 2020/21 Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday night at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes.
A pair of errors from centre-back Samuel Umtiti that led to goals and excellent goalkeeping from Aaron had Granada minutes away from victory, but a furious late two-goal Barcelona rally yielded an Aaron own goal and a Jordi Alba goal via header, resulting in extra time.
Things were just as heart-stopping in the additional 30 minutes, with Antoine Griezmann giving Barcelona their first lead of the night, only for a Sergino Dest penalty to hand Granada the equaliser.
In the end though, De Jong’s alert reaction to a rebound off a Lionel Messi shot and Alba’s left-footed volley proved decisive, sending Barcelona to the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
After returning from his long-term injury over the weekend, right-back Sergi Roberto was slotted into the starting XI of coach Ronald Koeman, as was Trincao up top with Griezmann and Messi. Neto also found himself on the bench after having started the previous two cup affairs, with No.1 Marc-Andre ter Stegen given the nod.
Barcelona came out suffocating Granada and Aaron was called on to make a trio of saves with two coming from Messi and one on Trincao.
The Catalonians would prove to be their own worst memory though, as a costly defensive error from Umtiti gifted Granada a ball deep in the Barcelona area and Kenedy had the ball in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead after turning in Alberto Soro’s cross.
There was still plenty of time for Barcelona to regroup, but at the start of the second half they had real reason to worry after going down 2-0 when a long ball hoofed up-field sailed over the head of Umtiti and to the streaking Soldado, who finished for the goal.
Barcelona’s bad night took another sour turn when an injury forced the recently recovered Sergi Roberto from the pitch with Dest taking his place.
Right after Trincao came close to breaking through with a shot that left the crossbar shaking, Koeman made his next changes, with Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite on for Trincao and Umtiti, followed later by Riqui Puig for Sergio Busquets.
Aaron continued excellent display with arguably his best save of the night with a one-handed parry of an overhead kick from Griezmann, followed later by a Dembele curler that also hit the crossbar.
All signs pointed to Granada seeing things out thanks to an invincible Aaron, but things took a drastic turn in the final minutes. It started with an inch-perfect pass from Messi for Griezmann, whose shot hit the post, deflecting onto Aaron’s leg and rolling into goal to make it a 2-1 scoreline.
The visitors were injected with a shot of belief and the four minutes of stoppage were plenty to find the equaliser. Moments after a Messi shot hit the post, the Messi-Griezmann connection would bear fruit again, with the Argentine floating a pass into the Frenchman, who headed back to a wide-open Alba and the left-back steered a header into net to improbably pull Barcelona even 2-2.
The momentum was all Barcelona’s and they grabbed their first lead of the night at the 100-minute mark, with Alba serving up a cross from the left and Griezmann thumping home a header for Barcelona to make it 3-2.
The joy was short-lived though, with Dest foolishly pushing Carlos Neva from behind in the Barcelona area and Fede Vico calmly converting the penalty to pull Granada level at 3-3.
Back things went toward Barcelona in the second period of extra time, as Aaron was unable to control a shot from Messi and De Jong was there to turn in the rebound to hand Barcelona a 4-3 advantage.
Alba then added the finishing touch with a classy finish with a left-footed volley off an outside-of-the-foot pass from Griezmann to complete the 5-3 scoreline.
3.- Granada: Aaron, Victor Diaz (Foulquier, min. 46), Domingos Duarte, German, Carlos Neva, Soro (Fede Vico, min. 58), Eteki (Nehuen, min. 106), Montoro, Puertas (Vallejo, min. 80), Kenedy (Machis, min. 46), Soldado (Luis Suarez, min. 66).
5.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto (Dest, min. 56), Araujo, Umtiti (Braithwaite, min. 63), Jordi Alba, Busquets (Riqui Puig, min. 76), Pedri (Lenglet, min. 105), De Jong, Griezmann, Trincao (Dembele, min. 63), Messi.
Goals: 1-0, min. 33: Kenedy; 2-0, min. 47: Soldado; 2-1, min. 88: Aaron (og); 2-2, min. 90+2: Jordi Alba; 2-3, min. 100: Griezmann; 3-3, min. 103: Fede Vico (p); 3-4, min. 108: De Jong; 3-5, min. 113: Alba
Referee: Sanchez Martinez (Murcia). Cards: Messi (Min. 25) for Barcelona, Yan Teki (Min. 29) for Granada, Montoro (Min. 90+3) for Granada, Alba (Min. 103) for Barcelona, Vallejo (Min. 119) for Granada
Red cards: None
Stadium: Nuevo Los Carmenes