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Barça were on the front foot from the first whistle and it was almost a minute before any Granada player had a significant touch of the ball. The hosts were kept hemmed in their own half thanks to wave after wave of early attacks from the blaugranes.
Lionel Messi saw his shot saved on seven minutes with Trincão’s follow up also palmed away, and it would take a full 10 minutes before Granada had any possession of note. It was fleeting as the visitors went straight up the other end and came close once more, this time through Antoine Griezmann.
Joy to watch
Granada had to maintain a very rigid 4-4-2 formation to gain any sort of control, which was proving difficult because of a super display of pass and move from Ronald Koeman’s side. It was a joy to watch in the opening quarter hour with perhaps the only surprise that there wasn’t goal to show for their dominance.
Messi almost found the net with another direct free-kick on 22, with keeper Aaron Escandell going full-length to turn it around the post. Despite having been on top for the entire first half-hour, it was Granada that took the lead on 33 through Kenedy. Sergi Roberto was unlucky not to equalise with a surging run just before the break, as the Catalans ended the half as they’d begun it.
With Barça on the attack at the start of the second half, Granada broke upfield for Roberto Soldado to double the lead, before Sergi Roberto had to be replaced by Sergiño Dest in another bitter blow for the blaugranes on the night.
Messi again went close on the hour and Trincão shook the frame of the goal with a shot against the bar. That would be his last involvement with Ousmane Dembélé taking his place and Martin Braithwaite coming on for Samuel Umtiti.
The visitors continued to set the pace and rhythm of the match and they certainly couldn’t be faulted for effort. Antoine Griezmann’s overhead kick was superbly tipped over by Aaron whilst Dembélé also struck the bar from distance in a frantic finish.
Griezmann managed to squeeze the ball home off of the keeper with a couple of minutes to play, and Messi made it three shots against the woodwork at the death. Into injury-time and more incessant pressure finally got its reward, Jordi Alba stooping low to equalise and send the game into extra time.
The move of the match came when the visitors played the ball from one end to the other, Messi forcing another save from Granada’s overworked custodian, who was also on hand to deny Braithwaite shortly after.
He could do nothing about Griezmann’s towering header from Alba’s cross, the fifth goal of a pulsating clash taking the Catalans ahead for the first time. Within two minutes Granada were awarded a penalty and Fede Vico levelled things up once again.
Still the goalmouth action continued, with Frenkie de Jong on hand to rifle home in the second period of extra-time before a Jordi Alba blockbuster volley finally won the match for Barça and sent them into their 13th semifinal in the last 15 seasons.
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