Barca with mountain to climb


12 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Barcelona's hopes of winning the Copa del Rey this season were left hanging by a thread on Wednesday after Sevilla won the first leg of their semi-final 2-0.

Jules Kounde furthered his growing reputation as one of the world's most exciting central defenders by scoring a stunning goal at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan before Ivan Rakitic came back to haunt his former club by adding a second late on.

The 22-year-old Kounde dribbled past three Barca defenders and shot into the corner while Rakitic's strike turned a setback for Ronald Koeman's side into what now looks like a formidable challenge to make the final.

The winner will meet either Athletic Bilbao or Levante, who play the first leg of their semi on Thursday, in the final.

"The result is a bit unfair, the reward feels too much for them," said Koeman.

"The return will be complicated at 2-0 but we have had chances and we have to keep going. At home, this team is capable of anything."

Koeman had described the cup as Barcelona's "shortest route" to a trophy this term and the sight of Kounde ghosting through his defence hardly inspires confidence ahead of next week's meeting with Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca face PSG at Camp Nou in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.