Late goals from Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi helped Barcelona bounce back from a poor first leg and defeat Malaga 4-2 (6-4). The win sets up an El Clasico matchup in the Copa del Rey semifinals.
Malaga gave Barcelona a fight for 75 minutes, but they were ultimately undone by a couple moments of brilliance as the Blaugrana pulled away late with goals from Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. The 6-4 aggregate victory means that Barcelona will face off against their old rivals Real Madrid in a two-leg Copa del Rey semifinal that will have the soccer world buzzing yet again.
First things first, let's recap today's action. As you might expect Barcelona got off to a fast start, needing to score early and put the pressure on Malaga.
In the 6th minute Cesc Fábregas made a beautiful turn around the defender and moved in to the box. Xavi was lurking to his left all alone but the ball got stuck on Cesc's foot and he couldn't complete the pass.
Two minutes later Dani Alves made a perfectly timed overlapping run, just managing to stay onside, before softly lofting a cross back across the box that was headed past Carlos Kameni by Pedro Rodriguez to give Barca the opening goal of the match and a 1-0 lead.
Malaga shook off the early goal and struck right back in 12th minute when Duda found Joaquín with a precise pass right at the top of the Barcelona box. The midfielder took one touch around Gerard Piqué, who was defending well, and beat José Manuel Pinto, who was in a great position, to the lower corner to make it 1-1. Just an excellent bit of individual effort by Joaquín.
Barca came close in the 25th minute when Lionel Messi, who had been quiet up to that point, jumped on a poorly cleared ball by Martín Demichelis and raced in to the box one-on-on with Kameni. The keeper was up to the task stonewalling Messi as a teammate cleared the ball out for a corner. Kameni made another excellent save on the ensuring corner kick denying Messi at the near post.
The Blaugrana came close again in the 36th minute. Messi wound the Malaga defense in circles before playing a lovely one-two with Andres Iniesta, setting up the midfielder 20-yards out from goal. Iniesta beat Kameni but his shot hammered off the cross bar.
Malaga were undone four minutes after the opening whistle of the second half. Piqué peeled off Robson Weligton at the top of the box, chested down Iniesta's pass and put his shot past Kameni to the lower right corner. Beautiful finish from the big defender and some really poor marking that Manuel Pellegrini won't be happy about as Barca took a 2-1 lead.
Back came Malaga in the 68th minute on a counter attack that started after Cesc went down in a heap in the Malaga box. The ball ended up with Joaquín at the top of the box and he found Roque Santa Cruz to his right. The Paraguayan unleashed a low shot that went through the legs of a Barca defender and beat the outstretched arm of Pinto before hitting off the inside of the far post and in to the net.
With the match tied 2-2, 4-4 on aggregate and away goals, and time running out would we see extra time and maybe penalties? Nope.
Barcelona began pushing Malaga deeper and deeper and in the 76th minute a bit of magic from Barca guaranteed there would not be any extra time. It all started when Iniesta fed the ball to Cesc and took off in to the box. Cesc made a ridiculous turn, dancing away from two tackles before returning the ball to Iniesta on the left side. The Spanish international blasted a shot past Kameni, putting Barca up 3-2 and in firm control of the tie with their third away goal.
Four minutes later, Messi ended any doubt about the result. Iniesta found Alves in space out on the right wing with a pass from deep in the midfield. Alves crossed the ball right in to the center of the Malaga box where Messi headed it in to put Barca up 4-2.