Malcom Oliveira’s 57th minute goal cancelled out one from Lucas Vázquez just six minutes into the game as FC Barcelona came away from the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals at Camp Nou with a 1-1 draw against their arch-rivals, Real Madrid.
The second leg is set for February 27th, at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, Spain. Barça will head into the return match with Real Madrid holding an away goals advantage, although for Barça, Wednesday night’s draw at Camp Nou felt more like a victory by the end of the match.
Leo Messi was not included in the starting XI just three days after scoring twice and then suffering a hard foul late in Barça’s 2-2 comeback draw versus Valencia at Camp Nou.
His replacement, Malcom, not only got Barça back on level terms with Los Blancos, but he also made several nice individual plays in the first half, setting up solid scoring chances for Gerard Piqué and Luis Suárez.
Real Madrid got on the board after just six minutes of play. Karim Benzema controlled a cross from Vinicius Junior deep along the touch line and found Vázquez cutting into the six-yard box, and Vázquez calmly redirected past Barça goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen from close range.
Barça gradually seized back the momentum and by the half-hour mark were threatening with almost every incursion into Real Madrid territory. Piqué headed one over the crossbar on a set piece in the 27th. Ivan Rakitic nodded one square off the bar in the 31st. And Suárez had a left-footed shot tipped wide by Navas in the 35th.
But despite the shift, Barça went into the dressing room at half-time down by the minimum. The Catalans’ dominance with the ball continued in the second half, eventually finishing the game ahead of Real Madrid in possession, 57% to 43%.
Malcom scored the tying goal in the 57th. Jordi Alba and Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas collided on a loose ball in the Madrid area, and Suárez came up with it, only to shoot low off the near post. But the rebound came out to Malcom and the Brazilian fired in, past a pair of defenders and from a tough angle, as Navas scrambled to get back.
Messi came on for Philippe Coutinho in the 64th, and quickly added an extra jolt to the blaugrana attack. In the 69th he was tripped up outside the area, but his free-kick slammed into the Madrid wall. Messi had a few more runs in the final minutes, but each time he was quickly swarmed by a bevy of white jerseys.
The draw was Barça’s second in a row at home in three days, and means the team’s quest to continue down the path to an unprecedented fifth straight Copa del Rey title will have to be decided in Madrid in three weeks’ time.