Villarreal competed bravely, but fell short of springing a surprise today in the Camp Nou, going down 3-1 to Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.
Although Barcelona controlled most of the play nothing had really troubled Asenjo in the Villareral goal in the first half-hour, but that changed after Bruno Soriano fell awkwardly in the box and injured his ankle. Manu Trigueros came on to replace him, but Barcelona began to turn the screws and it wasn't surprising when they took the lead, though the manner in which it happened was disappointing. Tomas Pina's short backward pass to Musacchio evidently surprised him, he lost his footing and Luis Suarez pounced on the ball, running into the box and squaring the ball to Messi for a clinical finish.
Villarreal were holding on for dear life in the remaining few minutes of the half, but as the two minutes of stoppage time wound down the Submarine fashioned a chance, Luciano Vietto's clever outside-of-the-boot flick just being turned round the post by ter Stegen. Villarreal took too long to take the corner, though, and the referee blew the whistle.
HT Barcelona 1-0 Villarreal
Villarreal equalized in the 48th minute, Trigueros's screamer from outside the box beating ter Stegen, who tried to block it but got only air. Unfortunately, as Trig took the shot Jonathan dos Santos was sitting on the ground with a muscle injury, so Barca kicked off with us a man down, and immediately made Villarreal pay. Iniesta finished off from some neat interplay, so yet again we had given up a goal to Barca within a minute or so of scoring one ourselves.
Rukavina came on for J dos after that, something of a defensive substitution, and the Submarine really struggled to get the ball forward without Bruno in there. Still, the third goal, when it came, was pretty soft, Pique soaring over an ineffective Musacchio to head the ball past Asenjo. Mateo seemed to think he was pushed, but any contact was pretty minimal--and this ref only penalized minimal contact when we were at fault.
The tie could have been completely over when referee Hernandez Hernandez awarded a dubious penalty--a cross bounced off Messi's shoulder, then Musacchio's. Fortunately, Neymar's penalty was saved by Asenjo, who guessed correctly and blocked it away.
Villarreal needed a second goal to really give themselves a chance in El Madrigal, and though they came close a couple of times, couldn't get it.
FT Barcelona 3-1 Villarreal
Well, that's probably it for the cup, but the bigger worry has to be the injury to Bruno. He's being checked out at the hospital right now. Without him, our push for fourth in the league, and our Europa League knockout round matches will be very difficult.