Athletic Club 1-0 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Late Williams Strike Stuns Barça

?Iñaki s scored a 93rd-minute winner to seal a superb 1-0 victory for Athletic Club over Barcelona in the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday night.

The striker’s perfectly-timed header stole it at the death as La Blaugrana flattered to deceive at San Mamés Stadium, showing plenty of skill and endeavour but failing to reap the rewards.

Ander Capa,Lionel Messi

Unai Núñez’s intelligent positioning kept Athletic’s clean sheet intact as he cleared a goal-bound effort off the line, Ansu Fati the man denied by the centre back, who’d anticipated the disguise on the shot.

?Barça had the lion’s share of possession, yet rarely got a clear sight of goal due to Athletic’s solidity and organisation. Anytime Athletic did look under serious threat, their brilliant trio of central defenders came to the rescue.

Despite their frustrations, La Bluagrana’s build-up play was exquisite as Frenkie de Jong and Ivan Rakiti? bossed the midfield. Their backline was far less steady, however, with Marc-André ter Stegen thrice gifting presentable opportunities to Gaizka Garitano’s recruits.

Inaki s

Sergi Roberto broke free down the right midway through the second half, but Antoine Griezmann couldn’t convert after latching onto the cross, Unai Simón denying the Frenchman before stopping Lionel Messi in the final minutes of normal time.

Messi would live to rue that miss, with s sending San Mamés into raptures with seconds remaining on the clock.

Here’s our breakdown of the encounter.


ATHLETIC CLUB

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Simón (8); Álvarez (8), Núñez (9*), Martinez (8); Capa (7), D. García (7), Vesga (6), Berchiche (6); R. García (7), Muniain (6); s (8).

Substitutes: Aduriz (7), Jose (6), Gomez (7).

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BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

Quique Setién watched an intriguing performance from his side. They produced some delightful interplay on Thursday night, but there was no end product. 

Athletic’s back three were outstanding throughout, there’s no doubting that. However, Barcelona’s lack of composure was another significant factor in their shock Copa exit.

Quique Setien

Messi’s wizardry couldn’t break the Athletic resolve, and at times there was a sense the visitors were a little too reliant on their Argentine maestro. His dribbling and passing was impeccable, yet La Blaugrana still need an alternative game plan that doesn’t revolve around him.

He had to do most of the leg work in the final third as Barça continued to use him as their main attacking outlet. But with Athletic defenders surrounding him, the 32-year-old rarely got a chance to pull the trigger. 

Messi was entertaining and threatening, though he can’t take on a whole team. Barça limiting themselves to one avenue of attack played perfectly into Athletic’s hands.

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (4); Semedo (6), Piqué (6), Lenglet (5), Alba (7); Busquets (6), De Jong (7), Rakiti? (6); Roberto (7), Fati (8), Messi (8*). 

Substitutes: Griezmann (7), Arthur (6), Umtiti (6).


Lionel Messi

There is no debate over Barcelona’s man of the match.

Messi was the architect-in-chief for the La Liga champions. Everything flowed through him, though that was sometimes to the detriment of Setién and his team.

Lionel Messi

The 32-year-old frequently drove at the heart of the Athletic defence, leaving defenders for dead as he went in search of a breakthrough.

Messi’s powers began to fade in the closing stages of the game, and his crucial miss set the stage for s’ last-gasp stunner.


Looking Ahead

Barcelona resume their ?La Liga campaign on Sunday with a trip to Estadio Benito Villamarín where they’ll lock horns with 12th-place Real Betis. Setién’s men follow that up with a home clash against Getafe.

Real Sociedad are Athletic’s next opponents, with the two meeting on Sunday evening, the same day Barça face Betis. Athletic then entertain Osasuna at San Mamés as the two clubs continue their search for Europa League football.


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