Griezmann saves Barcelona in Copa del Rey; Madrid advances

MADRID (AP) — With Lionel Messi rested and Luis Suárez out injured, it was Antoine Griezmann who had to come through to save Barcelona from an embarrassing elimination in the Copa del Rey.

Griezmann scored two late goals as Barcelona came from behind to beat third-division club Ibiza 2-1 in the competition’s round of 32 on Wednesday.

Also, Real Madrid won 3-1 against Unionistas de Salamanca — another third-division team — with Gareth Bale scoring his first goal for the club since September.

Griezmann scored in the 72nd minute and in stoppage time after the hosts had taken the lead less than 10 minutes into the match played on artificial turf in the Balearic Islands.

“They were used to the field and got off to a better start,” Griezmann said. “We couldn’t create any scoring opportunities.”

In addition to the absence of Messi and Suárez, Barcelona also played without other regular starters such as Gerard Piqué and Sergio Busquets. It was the second match in charge for coach Quique Setién, who had debuted with a 1-0 win over Granada in the Spanish league last weekend.

“It wasn’t easy,” Setién said. “I didn’t like the way the team played.”

The Copa del Rey is being played with single-elimination games this season, except in the semifinals.

The hosts took a surprising early lead and came close to scoring again before the break. Barcelona’s ball possession reached 85% at one point, but it hardly threatened in attack. The team’s first shot on target was in the 68th, a low strike by Ivan Rakitic that was easily saved.

The second shot was Griezmann’s equalizer from inside the area after a nice throughball by Frenkie De Jong. Griezmann’s winner was a low show into the far corner four minutes into stoppage time after a long pass by substitute Jordi Alba.

Javi Pérez had opened the scoring for the hosts after sloppy defending by youngster Riqui Puig following a breakaway in the ninth minute.

Ibiza thought it had increased the lead less than 10 minutes later, but Ángel Rodado’s goal was ruled out for a foul by him on defender Clement Lenglet. The hosts threatened again a few minutes before halftime, when Raí Nascimento hit the post from inside the area and Rodado’s close-range shot from the rebound forced Barcelona goalkeeper Neto to make a difficult reflex save.

The home crowd of less than 10,000 that packed the Can Misses Stadium loudly celebrated the team’s provisional lead after the halftime whistle. Some 2,000 temporary seats were added to the venue for Wednesday’s match.

“We had our chances, but unfortunately we were playing against one of the best teams in the world and they made us pay by taking advantage of the few opportunities they had in the game,” Pérez said.

Barcelona won four consecutive Copa titles before losing last year’s final to Valencia. The Catalan club is the competition’s most successful team with 30 titles.

REAL MADRID ADVANCES

Bale ended an 11-match scoreless streak with a goal in the 18th minute of Madrid’s win against Unionistas. He hadn’t scored for Madrid since a Spanish league match on Sept. 1.

Álvaro Romero equalized in the 52nd after finishing a great run from near midfield with a left-footed shot into the top corner, but Madrid took the lead again 10 minutes later with a close-range goal by Brahim Díaz, who replaced Bale because of an apparent injury.

Díaz closed the scoring in the final minutes.

“We didn’t play as well as we wanted, but in the end we advanced, which was the important thing for us,” Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde said.

OTHER RESULTS

Athletic Bilbao escaped elimination against second-division club Elche thanks to a 5-4 win in a penalty shootout. The game finished 1-1 after extra time.

Real Sociedad beat Espanyol 2-0 in a matchup of first-division clubs, while Villarreal eliminated Girona 3-0 and Valencia defeated Logroñés 1-0.

Second-division club Tenerife upset Valladolid 2-1.