Impressive cameos from Ousmane Dembele and Pedri helped Barcelona grind out a 2-0 win over Cornella to progress to the Copa Del Rey Round of 16.
Barcelona left it late to secure a hard-fought 2-0 win over Cornella in the Round of 16 of the Copa Del Rey on Thursday, with goals from Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite in extra-time proving to be the difference.
The visitors were far from impressive, especially in the first half as clear cut chances came few and far between. Cornella goalkeeper Ramon Juan Ramirez was in inspiring form as he notably denied Miralem Pjanic the chance to score from a penalty. The Spaniard made a host of other saves that kept his side in the contest, including yet another penalty in the second half from Dembele.
The winger’s poor spot-kick saw the ball go straight into the feet of Ramon Juan, missing what was Barcelona’s biggest opportunity in a second half which was more or less a carbon copy of the first. However, Dembele was quick to make amends as his tremendous effort from outside the box finally beat the Cornella shot-stopper just two minutes into extra time.
Barcelona finally put the game to bed in the final minute when an excellent breakthrough from Pedri found Martin Braithwaite, who made no mistake finding the back of the net and sealing the victory for Barcelona. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Barcelona players following their relatively poor performance against Cornella this midweek.
Even though Cornella attackers were not exactly a menace for Barcelona defenders, Neto had to remain sharp throughout the night. The Brazilian did not disappoint either, making a couple of useful saves and deservedly keeping his clean sheet.
Oscar Mingueza: 6/10
Oscar Mingueza’s offensive prowess was tested in this game as the youngster was primarily expected to provide the support for the wingers in the final third. Unfortunately, he was mostly ineffective going forward, though he did put in a couple of useful crosses throughout the course of the game.
Ronald Araujo: 8.5/10
It was yet another an inspiring performance from Ronald Araujo, who was simply delightful to even despite being a central defender. His tackles were crisp and his understanding of the game has improved a lot since the start of the season. The Frenchman also played a vital role in the build-up while often looking like a threat going forward.
📊 | Not a single player has dribbled past Ronald Araujo in the last 10 games. The Uruguayan Wall.🇺🇾🧱 pic.twitter.com/6x2KzWjTAd
— La Senyera (@LaSenyera) January 21, 2021
Clement Lenglet: 6.5/10
Captaining the side for the night, Clement Lenglet provided the defensive support for Araujo. Their collective effort helped Barcelona keep things tidy at the back for the most part. The centre-back had an excellent chance to score as well late in the game, but his header went wide of the mark.
Junior Firpo: 4/10
Junior Firpo’s struggles at Barcelona continued against Cornella as he failed to impress even against third division Cornella. Despite being advertised as an attacking full-back, the youngster was completely ineffective going forward, failing to provide that edge that was required in order to break down the opposing backline that defended deep.
Ilaix Moriba: 6.5/10
There was a lot of hype surrounding Ilaix Moriba, who was making his senior first-team debut for Barcelona. He had a decent game, looking quite promising, especially in the build-up play. His quality on the ball was also evident, though the youngster was replaced during the final phase of the game.
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) January 21, 2021
Miralem Pjanic: 6.5/10
Miralem Pjanic objectively had a great game in central midfield. He orchestrated the play in the middle of the park with his sublime passing and occasional forays going forward, even testing the goalkeeper late in the second half. The Frenchman’s penalty was not bad either, although it was spectacularly saved by Ramon Juan.
Riqui Puig: 5/10
Riqui Puig failed to impress the onlookers in what was a rare starting opportunity. The youngster was unable to provide the cutting edge creativity in the middle of the park. As a result, he was replaced at half-time as Ronald Koeman preferred a more attacking approach after the interval.
Francisco Trincao: 4/10
Another player who struggled to make full use of his rare opportunity, Francisco Trincao simply was not up to the mark, especially in the second half. The young Portuguese certainly needs to improve a lot in his game if he is to become a crucial player for Barcelona in the future.
Martin Braithwaite: 6/10
Martin Braithwaite put in the shift required in this fairly difficult game FC Barcelona. The forward wasn’t exactly wasteful in front of goal as most of his chances were not exactly clear cut. He did well to convert his chance late in extra time to seal the victory for his team.
Antoine Griezmann: 5/10
Antoine Griezmann struggled to impose his authority in the final third and break down the deep-lying Cornella backline. The Frenchman often failed to find that telling pass or execute an ideal shot. A below-par effort from the former Atletico Madrid forward, who desperately needs to improve his game.
Ousmane Dembele: 7.5/10
Ousmane Dembele came at half-time to change the complexion of the game with his pace and trickery on the flanks. The former Borussia Dortmund star did not disappoint either, proving to be a menace for the Cornella defenders. His poor penalty was a major dent in an otherwise fantastic performance, ideally capped off by a remarkable long-range effort that proved to be the winner.
39': Pjanic misses a penalty
79': Dembélé misses a penalty
Barcelona have missed two penalties against third-tier Cornella in the Copa Del Rey. pic.twitter.com/shI413YHjE
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) January 21, 2021
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Replaced Moriba in the 74th minute to add more freshness and composure in the Barcelona midfield. The Catalans evidently become stronger with him and Pjanic operating in the middle third of the pitch.
Although Dembele may have netted the winner in extra time, it was Pedri’s introduction in the 74th minute that truly changed the complexion of this tie. The youngster provided that penetration that was missing in Barcelona’s game throughout the night, notably crafting an excellent assist for Braithwaite’s goal.
Konrad de la Fuente: 7/10
A late replacement for Griezmann. Offered energy and unpredictability in the Barcelona attack.