Nine-man Athletic Bilbao stuns FC Barcelona in Copa Del Rey

A depleted by resolute Atheltic Bilbao team held on to a two-goal lead to stun a visiting FC Barcelona in San Mames Stadium by 2-1.

Bilbao, who is seventh in La Liga, had two players sent off in the second-half; but espite the glaring disadvantage, they managed to hold on to for an unlikely win.

The home team took the lead when Raul Garcia and Aritz Aduriz exchanged passes. The striker, who at 35 became Spain’s oldest goalscorer in the World Cup qualifying win over Macedonia in November – continued his scoring streak by beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a glancing header at the near post.

As the crowd roared in approval, an emboldened Bilbao, not content to sit back on their lead, gained reward when Inaki Williams found the net with a fine strike not four minutes later.

Barca quickly try to respond but could not find a way as the first half draws to a close, and twice appealed for penalties in first-half stoppage time, first for a challenge on Neymar and then for one on Luis Suarez, but their calls were dismissed.

But the Catalans managed a response early in the second half. As the referee called a foul on Neymar by Garcia, Lionel Messi curled in the ensuing free-kick from the left, with the ball bouncing down off the crossbar and crossing the line.

Garcia then received his first booking for a foul on Messi and was sent off 20 minutes later after a second yellow for a late challenge on Neymar. His fellow midfilder Ander Iturraspe’s met the same fate following a foul on the Brazilian forward.

But with a resolute Bilbao defense still keeping Barca out, Luis Suarez attempted a lob of Gorka Iraizoz which failed to come off, before Messi hits the post at the death as Barca’s fell short.

The second leg will be played at the Camp Nou next Wednesday.

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