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Copa del Rey wrap: Barca shrug off dogged Malaga

Barcelona have set up a Copa del Rey semi-final showdown with Real Madrid after battling to a 4-2 win over Malaga on Thursday.

The result gave Barca a 6-4 aggregate victory, following a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Camp Nou.

Twice Barca went ahead, through Pedro and Gerard Pique, and twice they were pegged back, first by Joaquin, and then by Roque Santa Cruz.

But the Catalans reclaimed the lead through Andres Iniesta before Lionel Messi sealed their progression to the semi-finals with a late header.

Tito Vilanova’s side took the lead inside eight minutes at La Rosaleda, after Dani Alves advanced down the right wing and slipped a pass inside that Pedro cleverly allowed to run on to Xavi.

The playmaker took a moment before playing the ball through to Alves, who had continued his run in behind the Malaga defence. The Brazilian then calmly assessed his options before deftly chipping the ball up for the supporting Pedro to head home.

Malaga drew level less than four minutes later, Joaquin sweeping home from just inside the Barca box.

With scores locked at 1-1 at half-time, Malaga held the advantage on the away goals rule, but Barca reclaimed the lead within four minutes of the restart, with Pique showing the poise of a centre forward in controlling a precision pass from Iniesta before slotting past Carlos Kameni.

Malaga levelled on 68 minutes when Joaquin turned provider to Santa Cruz, who angled a shot past Jose Pinto.

But two goals in the final 15 minutes were enough to send Barcelona through.

Iniesta again provided the inspiration, playing another wonderful one-two, on this occasion with Cesc Fabregas, before sliding the ball under the advancing Kameni and when Messi headed home on 80 minutes Barca had booked themselves a mouth-watering Clasico semi-final.

In Thursday’s other match, Atletico Madrid secured their place in the last four with a 1-1 draw at Real Betis giving them a 3-1 aggregate win.

Diego Costa put Atletico ahead on the stroke of half-time, meaning Jorge Molina’s 90th-minute penalty was nothing more than a consolation for the hosts.

Thu 24 January, 2013
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