Dembele’s goal takes the Blaugrana to the semifinals

Barcelona 1-0 Real Sociedad: Dembele’s goal takes the Blaugrana to the semifinals

Ousmane Dembele celebrates his goal for Barcelona against Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey

Barcelona qualified for the semifinals of the Copa del Rey after winning 1-0 against 10-man Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

The hosts were unable to find a breakthrough in the first half despite dominating, but took advantage when Brais Mendez was sent off in the 40th minute.

Ousmane Dembele gave the Blaugrana an early lead in the second half after being played in by Jules Kounde, finishing powerfully past Alex Remiro.

The rivalry between LaLiga’s first and third-placed sides has rarely been as close as the scorelines suggest until a late push from Sociedaaaaaad, and Xavi’s squad are lining up to add another trophy to their recent Supercopa de Espana success.

Barca got off to a flying start and managed to score in the 11th minute, only for Robert Lewandowski’s shot on target to be deflected in by Frenkie de Jong who was in an offside position.

The dangerous Dembele threatened shortly after when the determined run ended with a curling effort wide of the left post, while the visitors’ first attempt hit the crossbar by Takefusa Kubo just before the half hour.

There was an ironic cheer before half-time from the home crowd when referee Gil Manzano, who dismissed Lewandowski earlier in the seasoooon, showed Mendez a red card from La Real when a VAR review showed the midfielder caught Sergio Busquets’ ankle with a button.

Dembele opened the scoring in the 52nd minute when he ran onto a pass down the right channel from Kounde, before firing his shot past Remiro at the near post.

La Real should have equalized when Alexander Sorloth somehow turned in Kubo’s cross from close range, while Gavi hit the post at the other end.

However, one goal was enough to seal Barca’s run to the last four, thanks to Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s last-ditch save to keep out Roberto Navarro from a one-on-one attack and then Jon Ander Olasagasti’s powerful shot.

It seems strange to say about a team that has Lewandowski in it, but one thing that has eluded Barcelona for most of the game is the calm in the final third.

They had 20 shots overall, hitting the target six times, but seemed to struggle to break more of their opponents after gaining the male advantage.

It didn’t matter in the end as they claimed victory thanks to another clean sheet, although it also depended on a superb Sorloth error and a late Ter Stegen save.

Dembele is shining again

It was another day when Dembele proved he can be a key player in this Barca side, building on his stellar season so far.

As well as scoring the winner, the France international produced three key passes, more than any other player, and slotted four open play crosses into the box.

Toothless Sociedad needs adversity to threaten

It was an impressive effort from Imanol Alguacil’s men after dropping a player, but before Mendez’ sacking, they appeared to have done nothing to upset their hosts.

They had only one shot previously, with Kubo hitting the bar, finishing the game with seven shots on target, testing Ter Stegen just twice.

Opta Key Facts:

  • Barcelona have advanced in 15 of their 17 matches against Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey (including three finals), losing only in 1968-1969 and 1979-80 (both in the last 16)
  • Sergio Busquets made his 75th appearance in the Copa del Rey, equaling Josep Samitier for the second most matches with Barcelona in the competition. Only Lionel Messi (80) is above it.
  • Since the 2006-2007 season, Barcelona have advanced to the semifinals of the Copa del Rey 14 times out of 17 matches, failing only in 2009-2010, 2019-2020 and 2021-2022.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 12 matches in all competitions (W10 D2), which is their best record since January-April 2022 (15 – W11 D4).
  • Dembele (eight goals, seven assists) has been involved in 15 goals for Barcelona in all competitions this season, already equaling his record last term (15 – two goals, 13 assists). Only Lewandowski (27 – 22 goals and five assists) has been involved in more goals than the French winger for Barca in 2022-2023.

What’s next?

It returns to LaLiga action at the weekend as Barcelona travel to Girona on Saturday, while Real Sociedad take on Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

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