1-0, Ismael (8’)
2-0, Merino (34’)
2-1, Giovani (59’)
2-2, Giovani (60’)
3-2, Rubén Castro (63’)
3-3, Matellán (pp, 76’)
3-4, Ezquerro (93’)
FC Barcelona have qualified for the final of the Copa Catalunya thanks to 3-4 away win against Nàstic Tarragona in the Nou Estadi. All four Barça goals came in an exciting second half fight back after Barça trailed by 2-0 at halftime.
Seven goals, red cards, debuts and a great reaction from Barça in the second half. All this was on
view in Tarragona’s Nou Estadi tonight, where Barça won 3-4 thanks to a wonderful second half
performance. Two goals from Giovani, an own goal by Matellán and a last gasp match winner from
Ezquerro overturned a 2-0 deficit from the first half. With the just 15 minutes to go, Barça were
still losing 3-2. Rijkaard’s men will now face Espanyol in the final of the Copa Catalunya on
Nàstic take the lead
The match opened with Barça trying to control the action with some neat passing but it was Nàstic Tarragona who did the damage. Former Barça player Óscar López worked the ball over from the left for Ismael to head into the far corner to make it 1-0 after just eight minutes.
Barça reacted strongly with Sylvinho looking especially active on the left. The attacking trio of Giuly, Ezquerro and Giovani were lively upfront but failed to produce any clear chances.
However, in the 34th minute, the game swung firmly in Nàstic’s favour when Merino went round Oleguer to fire past Jorquera and make it 2-0. Four minutes later, Giovani had the chance to steal one back but at halftime the score remained 2-0.
Rijkaard introduced a number of tactical variations in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half. Orlandi, who replaced Víctor Vázquez at halftime, looked dangerous on the left while Ezquerro dropped back to allow Giovani to lead the attack. The changes paid off in the 59th minute when Orlandi centred from the left for Giovani to head home and bring the game back to life.
In the very next move, an unusually attacking Oleguer provided the pass for Giovani to score the equaliser.
From 2-2 to 3-3
However, joy was short-lived for the Barça players. In the 63rd minute, Rubén Castro found himself with only Jorquera to beat and made it 3-2. Nàstic seemed to be regaining the upper hand but when Morales was sent off for a second yellow card, the home side lost the initiative and an unfortunate mix-up between Serrano and Matellán led to an own goal (3-3).
The winning goal
In the second half, Frank Rijkaard gave their first team debuts to Barça B players Toni Calvo, Lluís Sastre and Thaer. In the dying minutes Pinilla saw a red card for arguing with the referee. Reduced to nine men, Nàstic could do little to stop Barça from scoring the winning goal in time added on. Orlandi provided another precise cross from the left for Ezquerro to head home and put Barça in the final of the Copa Catalunya.
The semi-final between Lleida and Espanyol was played on Wednesday, with Espanyol beating Lleida in a penalty shootout after the match ended in a goalless draw. The final will be played in the city of Sabadell (about 20 km inland from Barcelona) on Tuesday.
Barça play the semi-final of the Copa Catalunya tonight (Thursday) against Nàstic with a team of young hopefuls. They will be looking to impress the manager and stake their claim for a more permanent place in the senior squad.
Barça’s Copa Catalunya semi-final match against Nàstic kicks off at 10 pm and will be shown
live on Barça TV and Barça TV Online. With much of the senior squad dispersed around the world on
international duty, manager Frank Rijkaard has called up many young players from the Club’s
reserve and youth squads. Motivation won’t be lacking among these young players, who will be
looking to seize the chance to impress.
10 players from the Academy: Counting the 9 players from the reserve squad plus one more from the youth team, more than half of tonight’s squad is made up of players from outside the first team: Giovanni Dos Santos, Crosas, Sastre, Olmo, Orlandi, Toni Calvo, Valiente, Thaer, Víctor Vázquez and Sergio Busquets. Just eight senior squad players have been selected: Belletti, Oleguer, Jorquera, Sylvinho, Motta, Ezquerro, Giuly and Valdés.
No internationals: A total of 14 senior squad players are unavailable for tonight’s match. Thirteen of them are away on international duty while Rafa Márquez is still sideline by injury. In addition, Barça B forward Bojan Krkic – who would probably have featured tonight - has also been called up for the Spain under-21 squad.
A foretaste of the final league match: Nàstic and Barça are also scheduled to meet in the very last league match of the season. That match will also be played at the Nou Estadi in Tarragona but Frank Rijkaard will then be able to call on the complete squad for a match that could decide the league title.
Nàstic need a boost: With relegation to the Second Division now a reality, Nàstic will be hoping to rally their long-suffering fans with a win tonight in the Copa Catalunya. Manager Paco Flores will also be giving some of his fringe players a chance to shine, including goalkeeper Alvaro, defenders Marco and Serrano, and forwards Makukula and former Barça player Barça Oscar López, who could make his comeback tonight after being injured for most of the season.