European Cup Roundup : Barcelona, Manchester City and PSG progress while Atletico shocked
The finalists of the English and French league Cups were decided while two of four Copa del Rey semifinalists determined
Copa del Rey
Barcelona competed an aggregate 5-2 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, thus progressing to the semifinals after a 3-1 win at the Camp Nou. Atletico Madrid however, were shocked at the Vicente Calderon as they lost 2-3 to Celta Vigo, with their opponents progressing as the first leg had finished 0-0.
Barcelona 3-1 Athletic Bilbao
After a narrow 2-1 win away to Bilbao in the first leg, Barcelona looked to have ensured a comfortable night when Thomas Vermaelen headed the ball into the back of the net in the 9th minute, but his effort was harshly ruled out for a foul on Mikel Rico.
Bilbao silenced the Nou Camp 2 minutes later, as Inaki Williams gave the Basque side a shock lead, thus levelling the tie on aggregate, with Barcelona still leading on away goals. The 21 year old youngster’s darting run past an oblivious Jeremy Mathieu was found with an exquisite diagonal through ball from Aritz Aduriz, thus allowing the Williams to round Ter Stegen and slot the ball into an empty net in the 11th minute.
Eraso and Susaeta spurned gilt edged chances to double Athletic’s lead on the night, but the half ended with the Basque side having a well-deserved 1-0 lead on the night.
Barcelona equalized seven minutes into the second half, as the Blaugrana were thankful to Luis Suarez for giving thema 3-2 lead on aggregate. Sergi Roberto released Lionel Messi on the left channel with a delightful chipped pass, and the Argentine sent in a low cross that would have been cleared by Mikel Balenziaga, but the Bilbao fullback lost his footing, allowing Suarez to tap home his first Copa del Rey goal of the season.
Barcelona finished off Bilbao’s chances late into the second half, as Gerard Pique headed home Barcelona’s second of the night in the 81st minute, after Dani Alves muscled his way past Iker Muniain on the right and sent in a peach of a cross.
Neymar added gloss to the scoreline in the first minute of injury time, scoring Barcelona’s third to confirm the victory. The Brazilian dribbled his way to the edge of the box, and with the circumspect Bilbao defence backing off, Neymar unleashed a powerful left footed thunderbolt into the top left corner, thus giving Barcelona a 5-2 win on aggregate and sealing their progression into the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.
Atletico Madrid 2-3 Celta Vigo
Celta Vigo produced an excellent performance at the Vicente Calderon to progress to the semifinals of the Copa del Rey. The Os Celestes took the lead midway through the first half from a Pablo Hernandes header, but their joy was shortlived as Antoine Griezmann equalised for the hosts on the half hour mark, tapping home from a rebound.
John Guidetti gave Celta the lead after the break with a sensational effort from 30 yards out in the 56th minute. The visitors confirmed their dominance of the tie minutes later, as Hernandez headed home his second to give Celta a 3-1 lead in the 64th minute. Atletico scored a consolation late into the match, as Angel Correa dribbled his way past Celta defenders to score Madrid’s second in the 81st minute, but it didn’t change matters as Celta Vigo progressed at the final whistle.
Capital One Cup
Manchester City 3-1 Everton
Manchester City were grateful for their away goal scored in the first leg, when Everton defeated them 2-1 at Goodison Park. However, the Sky Blues were staring at a semifinal exit, when Ross Barkley gave the Toffees an 18th minute lead. The England midfielder drove at the heart of the City defense before unleashing a low right footed strike past Willy Caballero into the bottom left corner, giving Everton a 3-1 lead on aggregate.
City were fortunate to equalize on the night minutes later, as Fernandinho ran on to a loose ball and shot from range, but his strike took a wicked deflection of Leighton Baines and looped above a despairing Joel Robles, thus giving the Sky Blues a route back into the tie in the 24th minute.
Sergio Aguero hit the post for City as the half progressed while Lukaku narrowly headed over the bar as the first half ended 1-1, which meant Manchester City were only a goal down on aggregate going into the break.
The Sky Blues’ luck on the night continued into the second half as Kevin de Bruyne’s goal in the 70th minute gave City a 2-1 lead. Raheem Sterling drove his way to the byline trying to escape the attentions of his marker, but the Englishman’s cutback to de Bruyne’s side footed goal should not have counted as the ball had gone out of play.
With the tie level on aggregate and heading for extra time, who else but Sergio Aguero won it for Manchester City, as the Argentine’s 76th minute strike gave the Sky Blues the lead on aggregate. Kevin de Bruyne turned provider after his goal minutes earlier, as the Belgian sent in a beautifully measured, curling cross that Aguero flicked on with his head into the far corner, thus lifting the roof off the Etihad as City progressed into the final of the Capital One Cup, where they will face Liverpool.
Coupe de la Ligue
PSG 2–0 Toulouse
Paris St. Germain progressed into the finals of the Coupe de la Ligue with a 2-0 victory over Toulouse at the Parc des Princes. The Parisians were frustated by the visitors in the first half, as they struggled to break Toulouse’s resolute defence, with Let Pitchouns cup performances in start contrast to their 19th place form in Ligue 1.
PSG finally managed to break through in the 65th minute, as Adrien Rabiot’s chipped pass above a scrambling Toulouse backline found Ezequiel Lavezzi, and the Argentine rounded Toulouse keeper Mauro Goicoechea after he had saved his first effort and slotted home into an empty net to give PSG the lead.
Angel di Maria sealed it for the hosts with a stunning strike, as the Argentine doubled PSG’s lead in the 72nd minute. Di Maria picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition half, waltzed his way past a couple of challenges before lashing home a swerving shot with his left foot into the top corner, which meant PSG could play out the rest of the half comfortably, ensuring their progress into the final of the Coupe de la Ligue where they will meet Lille.