Heroic Jasper Cillessen helped Barcelona smash Sevilla for six to make Copa del Rey semis

Press Association Sport 10:30 31/01/2019
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Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen came to Barcelona’s rescue as they overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit to thrash Sevilla and book their place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

Trailing 2-1 on aggregate, Cillessen saved a 23rd-minute penalty from Ever Banega which could have left the hosts needing to score four to keep alive their hopes of a fifth straight crown.

As it happened Ernesto Valverde’s men went two better with two for Philippe Coutinho and further strikes from Sergi Roberto, Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi to win 6-1 on the night for a 6-3 aggregate success.

But they still had to withstand a brief late scare when Guilherme Arana temporarily reduced the deficit to 4-3 on aggregate, meaning one more Sevilla goal at that point would have been enough to end Barca’s four-year grip on the trophy.

Valverde’s desire to overturn last week’s 2-0 first leg defeat was evident in his team selection as he brought the likes of Suarez, Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets back into his starting line-up.

But Sevilla will leave the Nou Camp ruing missed opportunities, in particular Banega’s early spot-kick which would have put the hosts under great pressure.

Cillessen was the first keeper called into action in the second minute as the dangerous Pablo Sarabia scuffed his shot after being put through by Roque Mesa on the counter-attack.

Messi stirred shortly afterwards, with his shot on the rebound deflected wide after Sevilla keeper Juan Soriano had made a mess of the initial effort by Arthur.

Barcelona got the early goal they badly needed when Messi was brought down by Quincy Promes in the area, enabling Coutinho to step up and fire the opener in the corner.

Suarez came close five minutes later when he was cleverly played in by Alba, but the Uruguayan saw his initial shot blocked before Messi once again failed to hit the target at the second attempt.

The hosts continued to look likely to level the aggregate scores in a lively encounter but they had to remain wary of their fast-breaking visitors and Cillessen once again came to Barca’s rescue when he tipped an Andre Silva effort onto his post.

Sevilla got their big chance in the 23rd minute when Mesa was fouled in the box but Banega – who had converted his previous 13 consecutive penalties for the visitors – saw his effort saved.

Barcelona sensed the course of the tie had turned and after Soriano saved from Messi, they made it 2-0 just past the half-hour mark when Rakitic got the final touch to an Arthur through-ball.

The home side almost took the lead on aggregate in a furious finish to the first period, in which Coutinho and Messi both missed chances while Gerard Pique headed inches wide from a corner.

Barcelona continued in the ascendancy after the break with Rakitic bringing a save out of Soriano before Coutinho netted his second after 53 minutes, heading home from a Suarez cross from the left.

And as Sevilla threatened to fall apart, Barcelona made it 4-0 on the night two minutes later when Messi laid off to the onrushing Sergi Roberto, who powered his low drive across Soriano and into the corner.

After Coutinho had a hat-trick chance ruled out for offside, Sevilla rallied and should have reduced the deficit when Silva headed wide from a Sarabia cross.

Sevilla set home nerves jangling when they pulled a goal back in the 67th minute, Banega taking advantage of a rare mistake by Cillessen to play the ball back to Arana who powered home.

But knowing one more Sevilla goal would be enough to dump them out, the hosts responded well with Suarez and Messi each prodding home point-blank chances in the dying minutes.

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