Barcelona FC punched its ticket to the finals of the Copa del Rey, where they will meet Real Madrid, with a 1-1 draw (3-1 on aggregate) with Real Sociedad this evening. Just as importantly, Lionel Messi is back on his scoring run (see his prior brace against Sevilla here--http://bit.ly/1g8ovU2).
With a 2-0 first leg advantage, visiting Barcelona could afford a 1-0 loss, a tie, or a 2-1 loss to advance to the finals of the Copa against hosts Real Sociedad. But as was the case early in the return match between Real and Atletico Madrid, the match and tie were over half way through the first half.
At the 28th minute Sociedad defender Jose Angel mishandled an aerial ball with an awkward trap that bounced right to Messi, half-way between the half of the center circle on the Sociedad side and their penalty area's half-moon. Messi sprinted away, and toward the top of the box, and as two defenders closed in on him he rifled a shot that goalkeeper Enaut Subikarai only partially parried and then watched trickle into the lower left of his goal.
The first half, which ended 1-0 with the Catalans on top, was dominated by Barca. The ball mostly swung between the area surrounding Sociedad's box and mid-field. When the hosts were able to counter Barca was able to snuff the attacks before they became problematic and keeper Jose Pinto came up with a couple of saves in those few instances when the defense turned porous.
The Mexican commentator on the Spanish language BeIn Sport broadcast summarized it best "Barcelona go to the locker rooms a goal ahead and without mussing their hair."
The second half saw a sea change as Sociedad forgot about the tie and went for a win in the game. They outplayed Barca in stretches, though Messi's troops responded in kind, and made a game of what had started as a walk over. In the 57th minute Carlos Vela's left footed blast beat Barca's Pinto but hit the cross bar and at the 87th minute a textbook counter saw Antoine Griezman volley home a perfect cross for the tie.
Truth be told the second half saw a continuation of the first half's poor officiating, or one sided officiating, as a hand ball by Javier Mascherano (stopping a promising counter), an ugly Cesc Fabregas studs-up slide into a Sociedad player at the mid-field touchline meriting a red card, and a Gerard Pique counter-stopping grab, all went uncalled.
But, at game's end it was Tata Martino who left with the responsibility of countering Carlo Ancelotti's tactics in the final of the 2014 Copa del Rey.