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Barcelona Crash Out Of Cup After Extra-Time Defeat By Athletic Bilbao

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Barcelona were eliminated from the Copa del Rey on Thursday when Ferran Torres’ first goal for the club failed to prevent a dramatic 3-2 extra-time loss to Athletic Bilbao. The disappointment for Barça was compounded by the sight of a visibly upset Ansu Fati getting injured in the second half of regulation time at San Mamés. Fati only returned earlier this month after two months out with a hamstring problem, and he too returned in September after 10 months out with a knee injury.

Another spell on the sidelines for Fati would be a huge blow to Barca’s hopes of breaking into the top four of La Liga. Pedri also asked to go out in extra time.

Real Madrid also needed an additional 30 minutes to defeat Elche 2-1, with Eden Hazard scoring the winner after Marcelo’s red card forced the La Liga leaders to come from behind with 10 men.

Isco scored the equalizer after Gonzalu Verdu put Elche ahead.

“Perhaps Hazard and Isco deserve to play more,” said Carlo Ancelotti. “I know I can count on them.”

Barça had hoped to join Real Madrid in the round of 16 but instead it is Athletic who advance, joining Madrid, Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Rayo Vallecano, Cádiz, Valencia and Real Betis in Friday’s round of 16 draw.

Madrid will be the firm favourites, especially after Sevilla fell to Real Betis, who are now perhaps the biggest threat to Ancelotti’s side winning their first Copa del Rey since 2014, during Ancelotti’s first term as manager. .

Barca won the Copa del Rey last season and defending their title was probably their best chance of winning silver this season.

They are out of sight in La Liga and were beaten by Madrid in last week’s Spanish Super Cup, with the Europa League now their only remaining realistic route to a trophy.

“They have beaten us in intensity,” said Xavi Hernández. “We have to change the dynamic because when heads or tails come up, tails always come up. You have to work and be brave.”

Barely 102 seconds had passed when Iker Muniain stunned San Mamés by picking up a cross from Nico Williams at the far post, before turning and doubling towards the back.

But Barcelona were level in the 20th minute, and from a similar angle, when Torres moved to the right, inside Oscar De Marcos, and fired a stunning shot into the net.

Inaki Williams hit the bar with a long-range effort at the end, but the real drama was yet to come. Athletic thought they had won it in the 86th minute when Íñigo Martínez shot at the far post ahead of Gerard Piqué.

Barcelona, ​​however, found a way to come back in minute 93, when Dani Alves bicycle-kicked Jordi Alba’s cross back into the area and Pedri’s shot down the straight was too powerful for Julen Agirrezabala’s right.

Barça celebrated as if it were the winner but the extra time and injuries came. Fati left and then Pedri asked to leave.

Then, in the 103rd minute, a slip by Alba stopped a Nico Williams cross with his right arm and after consulting the replay, José Munuera pointed to the penalty. Ter Stegen dove to the right, Muniain shot to the left.

Hazard had earlier scored his first Real Madrid goal in eight months when Madrid staged a dramatic 10-man comeback to beat Elche.

The Belgian has been fit but still on the sidelines for Ancelotti’s team in recent months and even in this Cup match he started on the bench.

But the 31-year-old went into extra time and hopes his winner will now be the start of a resurgence in the second half of the season.

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