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CAMP NOU, Barcelona — FC Barcelona made their Copa del Rey quarterfinal comeback look easy, handily besting Sevilla in a thrilling second leg clash that had it all—an electric Leo Messi, a penalty kick goal, another that was saved, one that appeared to be accidental at first glance, and a late flurry that set it all into stone.
At the end of it all, the Catalans were just too much for Sevilla, overcoming a 2–0 aggregate deficit from last week's first leg to go through to the semifinals for the ninth season in a row, 6-1 (6-3 on aggregate).
One look at the score sheet shows just how wild it was, with Philippe Coutinho notching a brace — his first goal came on a penalty kick — while Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Roberto, Luis Suárez, and Messi all chipped in with a goal apiece.
Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen made a bevy of sterling saves, including a 26th minute penalty kick, to keep Barça in the driver’s seat throughout.
Things were noisy in the stands but relatively placid on the field until the 12th minute, when a penalty kick was first awarded to Barça after Messi was taken down in the area.
Surprisingly, the Argentinian maestro deferred the spot kick to Coutinho, who stepped up and buried a low shot inside the left post, just out of the keeper's reach to give Barça a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes of play.
Sevilla immediately threatened to strike back. Cillessen parried an André Silva shot in the 23rd, which caromed off the post before being cleared. And the save of the day came three minutes later, in the 26th, when the Dutchman stoned Ever Banega’s penalty kick that would have given Sevilla a potential tie-breaking away goal.
With Camp Nou already in a state of pandemonium, the place exploded in the 32nd, when Arthur Melo’s long through-ball to Rakitic appeared to be just out of the Croatian’s reach. But Sevilla goalkeeper Juan Soriano misjudged the play and came out too far, as Rakitic nipped the ball with the tip of his toenail, just enough to fool Soriano and allow the ball to roll in unfettered for a two-goal Barça lead.
It could not have been a better start for Barça, but they went into the dressing room at halftime knowing a lone goal from Sevilla would make things exponentially more difficult, forcing Barça to score at least twice more to go through.
That turned out not to be a problem.
In the 53rd, Coutinho put Barça up 3-0 with his second goal of the game, nodding in a precision cross from Luis Suárez. Yet, despite the three-goal lead, it was still too close for comfort.
Cue Sergi Roberto, who made it 4-0 from virtually the same spot Coutinho had scored from two minutes earlier. Messi hit the Barça number 20 in stride, and the hero of the last great Barça comeback — the epic 6-1 Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain — slotted in past Soriano to give Barça some breathing room.
But Barça’s four-goal lead, well more than enough to secure passage to the semifinals, was fleeting. There was a rapid turn of events in the 68th, when Guilherme Arana suddenly pulled one back for Sevilla, putting them one goal from knocking Barça out.
Camp Nou’s nervousness began to rear its head as the clocked ticked down and Barça were clinging to just a one-goal aggregate lead, while also being on the wrong end of a potential tie-breaker.
Then, in the waning minutes, out came the big guns.
Suárez virtually put the game, and the quarterfinals, away in the 87th, converting a superb pass from Jordi Alba to make it 5-1 (5-3 on aggregate). And in injury time, Messi burst in on the party with a goal of his own to make it 6-1 (6-3 agg.) and definitively send Sevilla packing.
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