Suarez double sends Barcelona past Real Madrid and into Copa del Rey final

Luis Suarez said it was a complete performance. (Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2019

Suarez double sends Barcelona past Real Madrid and into Copa del Rey final

MADRID: Luis Suarez scored twice on Wednesday as Barcelona inflicted another defeat on Real Madrid to move within touching distance of winning a record fifth consecutive Copa del Rey.
Madrid were the better side for at least half of a wild Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu but three goals conceded in 28 chaotic, second-half minutes sent Barca through to the final with a 3-0 victory, 4-1 on aggregate.
Suarez would have had a hat-trick had Raphael Varane not beaten him on the line to Ousmane Dembele’s cross, Varane’s own-goal coming between the Uruguayan’s smart finish and a mischeivously chipped penalty. He now has 11 goals in 13 games against Madrid.
“We have other players apart from Leo Messi that can score goals,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. “Luis’ numbers are incredible, historic for Barca. We know he is always there.”
By then, Barca were coasting and after thrashing Madrid 5-1 at the Camp Nou in October, they will return for Saturday’s La Liga game boasting an accumulative score of 9-2 from the clubs’ three meetings this season.
But this was not the humiliation of four months ago and if the result can be put to one side, Santiago Solari might take heart from the handful of golden opportunities his team wasted before their opponents began their spree.
“We are sad, we wanted to play in the final,” Solari said.
“But we go out with our heads held high, we did everything we could but we didn’t take our chances, and they did.”
Vinicius Junior was most guilty, the 18-year-old showing his both his talent and youth in equal measure. Gareth Bale, left on the bench again, might have wondered what he would have done with some of the chances that went begging.
There was a scattering of whistles for Bale when he came on with just over 20 minutes left but there was little he could do about Barcelona quickly extending their lead from one goal to three.
For Valverde’s side, a record sixth consecutive Copa del Rey final, with either Valencia or Real Betis, who play on Thursday, awaiting them on May 25.
After beating Sevilla 4-2 on Sunday, the Catalans appear to have rediscovered their groove. “It was a complete performance,” said Suarez. “We knew it would have to be.”
The first half was a scrap, full of heavy touches and lunging challenges with a handful of chances to counter-attack squandered by loose passes.
Ivan Rakitic plunged into Casemiro and Toni Kroos charged into Lionel Messi. Vinicius offered the best moments down the left, terrorizing Barca’s backline but failing to find a finishing touch.
He wanted a penalty for a clumsy challenge by Nelson Semedo but the contact was probably not enough, and then three chances were passed up.
First, he fired over after his opponents backed off and then was sent clear through a gap vacated by Gerard Pique, who had lost the ball upfield.
A heavy touch took Vincius wide and while he squared for Karim Benzema, Marc-Andre ter Stegen made the block with his foot. Soon after, he shot high again from six yards, before beckoning the groaning crowd by swinging his arms.
Barca should have capitalized on a wayward Sergio Reguilon backpass but otherwise they, and Lionel Messi, were a little flat, lacking either the precision or spark to create a clear chance.
Then, with their first one they scored. Dembele made it, drifting Dani Carvajal one way before darting the other and pulling the ball back for Suarez to squeeze inside the near post.
Madrid came again. Reguilon’s header drew another excellent save from Ter Stegen and Vinicius left three Barca defenders sprawled on the floor but could not complete a mesmeric run with a finish.
Bale came on but it was Barcelona that scored, twice in four minutes. Dembele again skipped in behind and passed to Suarez at the backpost, although it was Varane that got the final touch.
Then Casemiro planted a clumsy foot on Suarez’s ankle and the referee pointed to the spot. Messi deferred to Suarez, perhaps thinking he was on a hat-trick, and the Uruguayan coolly chipped the penalty into the corner.
There was still time for Bale to break free but he curled his shot well wide. It was last of too many chances spurned.


Spurs stumble again as Chelsea and Leicester win

Newcastle United’s Dutch defender Jetro Willems vies with Chelsea’s Canadian-born English defender Fikayo Tomori during Saturday’s in London. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Spurs stumble again as Chelsea and Leicester win

  • Tottenham narrowly avoid embarrassing home defeat to bottom club Watford

LONDON: Tottenham narrowly avoided an embarrassing home defeat to bottom club Watford on Saturday as Chelsea and Leicester leapfrogged champions Manchester City in the Premier League. With leaders Liverpool not in action until Sunday, it was a chance for the chasing pack to press their credentials for top-four spots.
Chelsea's Marcus Alonso broke the deadlock for Frank Lampard's side at Stamford Bridge against Newcastle for a 1-0 win while Youri Tielemans sealed a 2-1 victory for Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
But Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino saw his side labor to a 1-1 draw at home to Watford, following a 3-0 thrashing at Brighton and a humiliating 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich.
Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.
Tottenham got off to an awful start as they fell behind in the sixth minute, Abdoulaye Doucoure finishing superbly from Daryl Janmaat's assist.
Dele Alli grabbed a late leveller for Spurs with his first goal since January. There was major confusion as it appeared as if VAR had ruled out the effort, but it was allowed to stand.
Leicester held a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember their late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who was killed in a helicopter crash at the stadium last October.
Chris Wood put Burnley in front but Leicester’s in-form forward Jamie Vardy headed an equaliser just before half-time and Tielemans completed the turnaround with just over 15 minutes to go.

BACKGROUND

Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.

Ahead of City's match at Crystal Palace later on Saturday, Leicester were second in the Premier League table, seven points behind leaders Liverpool, while Chelsea, also on 17 points, were third.
Matt Targett scored a goal deep into injury time as Aston Villa came back from 1-0 down to beat Brighton 2-1.
Southampton took the lead against Wolves at Molineux, courtesy of a Danny Ings goal but Raul Jimenez hit back from the penalty spot just eight minutes later after Matt Doherty was brought down.
Bournemouth drew 0-0 at home to Norwich.
In the early kick-off on Saturday, Everton climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a well-deserved 2-0 victory against West Ham that eased the pressure on Marco Silva.
A first-half goal from Brazil forward Bernard and a late second from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Everton the three points in a match in which they had 19 shots.
"It was a fantastic performance," Sigurdsson told BT Sport. "We had a lot of chances, especially in the second half. You never know when it's 1-0 -- you always want to get more.
"They are dangerous going forward and their goalkeeper made some spectacular saves. I was pleased to come on and give us a bit of comfort. There was a real purpose to our game today."
Manchester City head to Crystal Palace in the late match on Saturday. Pep Guardiola left Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez out of his starting line-up but there was a place on the bench for defender John Stones after an injury lay-off.
Liverpool travel to face struggling Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, chasing a record-equalling 18th consecutive Premier League win while Arsenal face Sheffield United on Monday.