About the whistle report: Rayo 1-2 Barcelona (Reuters) – Lionel Messi returned from suspension to help guide Barcelona to a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday to reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.
Barça dominated the game and hit the wood three times, but second-division Rayo took a surprise lead in the 63rd minute when Barça goalkeeper Neto couldn’t face a low center and midfielder Fran García swooped in to pass the goal. ball over the line. Rayo went out looking for a second goal and was badly caught at half-time when Frenkie de Jong removed Antoine Griezmann and the Frenchman left the ball for Messi to fit into the net from close range in the 70th minute.
The Argentine, who became the Barça record for appearances in the competition with 76 Cup games, was the architect of the second goal 10 minutes later, released Jordi Alba down the left wing with a sumptuous pass and De Jong finished off the center of the defense to command the Catalans in the second round. Messi should have added a third goal in overtime after fighting his way through Rayo’s defense, but when it came time to shoot he lost his balance and could only find the side net.
“The truth is that it was a difficult game, we should have left it behind much earlier, but the most important thing is that we have overcome it,” said Barça defender Ronald Araujo. “His strategy was to play with a very high defensive line but luckily we were able to pass into space and find both goals that way.” Barça coach Ronald Koeman spoke before the game of his desire to win the Cup, as his team seems unlikely to catch up with La Liga leaders Atlético de Madrid, and backed his words with a strong team. The Dutchman made the surprising decision to start Messi and also lined up Sergio Busquets, Griezmann and De Jong, who is in top form at an advanced midfield position. But Barça, who have lifted the Copa del Rey a record 30 times, still lacked something until Koeman made a triple change just after trailing behind, introducing Alba, Ousmane Dembélé and teenage Pedri.
“We were excellent from the start and let them off the hook on several occasions, spoiling the final pass,” added Koeman. “Then we showed our character when we went back and produced a lot of quality to score both goals.” Sevilla joined Barça in Friday’s quarter-final draw by crushing 2019 Cup champion Valencia 3-0 at home. Frenkie de Jong after the match: “I’m scoring more goals than usual. I talk to the referees a lot, I have to stop that! We want to win the cup because it is a trophy and we want to win all the trophies.” About Messi “Messi scores a lot and he is the best player in the history of football.”