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Sports World News of Friday, 27 January 2017


Barca stay on course for hat-trick as Madrid miss out on Copa finals

No mistake from Barcelona. After Real Madrid missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey following a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Wednesday night, the Blaugrana stayed on course for a third straight title by thrashing Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Having broken their Anoeta curse with a 1-0 win in the first leg, Luis Enrique's side were in a strong position ahead of this second match and even without Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, they rarely looked troubled by the Basque visitors.

Denis Suarez, who netted his first senior Barca goal at Eibar on Sunday, added another two here, while Lionel Messi converted from the spot after a foul on the impressive Neymar, Luis Suarez scored his 20th of the season and substitute Arda Turan tapped in from close range late on.

Poor defending from Barca also allowed La Real to score twice themselves, but Barca ran out 6-2 winners on aggregate thanks to their forwards' formidable firepower and the Catalans will meet either Alaves, Atletico or Celta in the last four.

The draw takes place on Friday lunchtime, but with Madrid no longer in it, Barca will be big favourites to claim the cup for the third season in a row under Luis Enrique.

The Blaugrana won a treble of Liga, Copa and Champions League titles in the Asturian's first season in charge, followed by a domestic double of Primera Division and cup crowns last term.

"It was a difficult tie," the Barca boss said. "But we were effective in front of goal and I am happy to be in the semi-finals. Real Sociedad are one of the best teams in Spain and I am very happy to have come through it."

Javier Mascherano was withdrawn with a knock, but the coach revealed he brought off the Argentine as a precaution and there were some positive performances from goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, substitute Aleix Vidal once again and also Denis, while Messi claimed his first assists of 2017.

It has been a positive start to the calendar year for the Catalan club and especially as their fierce rivals Real Madrid have hit a rocky patch over the past few fixtures.

Barca are very much in the race for La Liga after Real's recent loss at Sevilla and are also on course for a third successive Copa del Rey crown as well. What a difference a couple of weeks can make.