Friday 6 January 2017

Unbelievable: Athletic Bilbao Defeat Barcelona With Nine Players

Athletic Bilbao held out with nine men to beat Barcelona 2-1 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie on Thursday. Two goals in three first-half minutes from Aritz Aduriz and Inaki Williams put the hosts in command, but Lionel Messi's fine free-kick halved Barca's arrears after the break.

The five-time World Player of the Year was inches away from a precious second away goal when he hit the post with the final kick of the game after Raul Garcia and Ander Iturraspe had been sent off. Barca boss Luis Enrique started all three of his star strike force of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar despite handing them an extended winter break which meant they only returned to training on Monday after two weeks off.
This is the sixth time Barca and Athletic have been paired together in the cup in nine seasons, including three finals. Barca have emerged victorious in all five previous occasions, but Athletic looked well on their way to reversing that run with two excellent goals midway through the first half.
The return leg takes place on January 11

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