FC Barcelona

Athletic Club 3-2 Barcelona (AET): Player ratings as reigning champions dumped out of Copa del Rey

Max Parsons
Barcelona players look dejected as Athletic Club celebrate
Barcelona players look dejected as Athletic Club celebrate / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages
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Last year's Copa del Rey finalists met at the round of 16 stage on Thursday night, as Barcelona exited the competition after a thrilling 3-2 extra-time defeat to avengers Athletic Bilbao.

Xavi's side twice came from behind in normal time - courtesy of goals from Ferran Torres and Pedri in either half - but were eventually put to bed by a penalty from Iker Muniain.

The teams were playing each other days after returning to Spain, following mutual disappointment in the Saudi Arabia-based Supercopa tournament in which Real Madrid came out triumphant.

In what was a blistering start for the hosts, the deadlock was broken in under two minutes. Nico Williams, causing Jordi Alba all sorts of problems, embarked on a surging run down the right flank before finding Muniain, who produced a moment of magic to open the scoring.

Picking up Williams' pull-back the Athletic Club captain set himself on the left side of the penalty area, before somehow getting a perfect combination of whip and curl to loft the ball over Marc-Andre ter Stegen into the far corner.

Xavi's men reacted well to the setback, however, and gradually found their feet in the tie, notching an equaliser after 20 minutes. Torres got his first goal in Barcelona colours, bending the ball sumptuously into the far corner after receiving Sergio Busquets' pass into the area.

Barca may have drawn level but, in the true spirit of a cup tie, momentum then switched again. Muniain, Oscar De Marcos, Williams, Oihan Sancet and Raul Garcia all should have found the net before the referee blew for half-time - but a combination of sluggish finishing and solid goalkeeping saved the visiting side as the game reached its midway point.

Williams forced Ter Stegen into another save minutes after the resumption of play although, generally speaking, neither goalkeeper was worked too heavily after the interval. That was until the 85th minute when the game erupted.

With five minutes remaining, Bilbao finally broke through Barcelona's resilient last line and restored their lead. Minutes after substitute Inaki Williams' attempted cross worried the visitors by falling flush onto the crossbar, the hosts scored their second of the night from a set-piece situation.

After an almighty scuffle in the six-yard box, the ball broke to the back post where Inigo Martinez - seemingly trying his hardest to miss - just managed to poke the ball over the line, sending San Mames crazy.

Marcelino's men were off celebrating once more just three minutes later, although a VAR check ruined the party after catching Alex Berenguer in an offside position before putting the ball into the back of the net - that moment came back to haunt Athletic Club soon after.

The kitchen sink - and every other utensil imaginable - was thrown at the hosts' goal by Barcelona and, although not entirely deserved, Xavi's side clawed their way back into the tie in the third minute of stoppage time.

Latching onto Dani Alves' miscued bicycle kick, Pedri fired home clinically on the edge of the area to send the tie into extra-time before wheeling away in rapturous celebration.

However, the Blaugrana were once again pegged back just before the halfway point in the additional period, when the referee adjudged Alba to have handled Williams' - the younger one - cross following a review on the pitch-side monitor. Stepping up to take the penalty, Muniain made no mistake in making it 3-2 to the hosts.

Barca subsequently had one glimmer of hope, although Torres' clinical finish was pulled back as the linesman's incredibly late raised flag spoiled the away fans' joy. The visitors were unable to break down Bilbao's brick wall of a backline as the game neared its conclusion, eventually succumbing to a Copa del Rey dumping.

While the reigning champions will now be unable to defend their crown, attentions will be firmly turned onto La Liga matters as Barcelona aim to push for Champions League qualification - starting with Sunday's trip to Deportivo Alaves.


Barcelona player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Oihan Sancet, Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique was stoic against Athletic Club / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) - 7/10 - No chance with any of the goals, but did well to keep his side in the game with a selection of good saves.

Dani Alves (RB) - 6/10 -
Really inferior to his opposition's physicality - looking every bit the 38-year-old he is - but did really well to keep the ball alive - and assist - in the 93rd minute with a Sunday League-esque bicycle kick.

Ronald Araujo (CB) - 6/10 -
Pretty sloppy in the opening exchanges but proved largely reliable as time progressed.

Gerard Pique (CB) - 7/10 -
Brave, alert and equal to the danger, looking like the keystone holding Barcelona's shaky defence together at times.

Jordi Alba (LB) - 3/10 -
Simply done for pace by Williams in the build-up to the opener and things didn't really get much better thereafter, giving away the penalty that yielded Bilbao's third. Nightmare.

2. Midfielders

Sergio Busquets (DM) - 7/10 - Completely overwhelmed by Bilbao's midfield dynamism early on but regained composure soon enough. Read things well at the heart of the side and built play with typical efficiency, assisting Torres' early equaliser.

Pedri (CM) - 8/10 -
Grew into the game and eventually started seeing more of the ball, progressing play with his characteristic verve and insatiable quality before epitomising his tenacity with a crucial, stunning finish at the death.

Gavi (CM) - 6/10 -
Nice movement between the lines, demonstrating sharp feet to link things together upfield. Played a large part in his side's first although waned from the game when shifted out wide in the second half.

3. Forwards

Ferran Torres (RW) - 7/10 - Pretty elusive throughout, often proving difficult for his opposition to track and handle. Curled the ball beautifully to score his first Barca goal in the first half, but was disappointingly uninfluential in the game's latter stages.

Ferran Jutgla (ST) - 4/10 - Just couldn't get into the game whatsoever and, bar one tame header in the first half, was completely absent.

Ez Abde (LW) - 4/10 - Worked hard and strived to make things happen but was generally limp until being hooked off at the interval.

4. Substitutes

Nico Gonzalez (RW) - 6/10 - Injected dynamism and physicality into the visitors' ranks, although his combative nature was a little wasted as he predominantly played out wide.

Ansu Fati (ST) - 5/10 - Some nice touches here and there, but nothing dazzling or decisive. Worryingly forced off early on in extra-time, and was visibly devastated.

Frenkie de Jong (CM) - 5/10 -
Neat and tidy but, apart from one crunching challenge, didn't demonstrate the sort of edge that could really impact the outcome of the game.

Sergino Dest (LW) - 5/10

Martin Braithwaite (ST) - 5/10

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