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Barcelona Crashes Out Of Copa Del Rey In Round Of 16 For First Time In A Decade After Bilbao Brilliance

Barcelona has crashed out of the Copa del Rey in the Round of 16 for the first time in 12 years after Athletic Bilbao won in extra time 3-2 on Thursday. This was revenge for Athletic after losing in the final to Barcelona 4-0 last season.

The game got off to a thrilling start when rising star Nico Williams burned Jordi Alba down the right wing before sending in a dangerous cross. Iker Muniain picked up Nico’s ball to score a beautiful goal to send San Mamés wild.

Barcelona may have dominated possession, but Barça’s chances on goal were few and far between. Ferran Torres made no mistake with his new side’s best chance of the first half and equalized with a goal that will put a tear in the eye of Manchester City fans.

Xavi was pleased.

The momentum swayed heavily in Athletic's favor in the second half. The Williams brothers — Nico and Iñaki — looked incredibly deadly. Iñaki was brought on in the 52nd minute and for the rest of the half the brother terrorized Barcelona’s defense. These two had put on a fantastic performance a week earlier in the Super Cup.

An unlikely hero stepped up for Athletic in the final minutes of regulation when center back Iñigo Martínez bundled the ball over Barcelona’s line after a set piece. This was the 24th goal of the 30-year-old’s career.

I committed a major writing sin and started writing an “Athletic Shocks Barcelona” article right after Martínez scored. I forgot one crucial detail… Pedri. The Spanish phenom made me hold my finger on the “delete” button when he equalized in the 93rd minute to send the thrilling Copa del Rey game to extra time.

That might be an assist of the year from Dani Alves.

The first 15 minutes of the extra period was the stuff of nightmares for a Barcelona fan. Both Ansu Fati and Pedri — who have struggled with injuries — grabbed at their hamstrings. Sergiño Dest was brought on to replace Fati and Martin Braithwaite replaced Pedri.

Athletic Club was then given a penalty kick after a VAR review on Jordi Alba, and Muniain made no mistake from the spot.

The final 15 minutes saw a monsoon of muscle cramps and Athletic time-killing in the corner. The result means that the only trophy Barcelona has a realistic shot at winning this season is the Europa League. If the Europa League doesn’t work out, it would be the second time in the last three seasons Barcelona finishes empty-handed.

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