Barcelona, Real Madrid made to sweat

Barcelona, Real Madrid made to sweat

Antoine Griezmann

La Liga’s heavyweights were both given a scare by third-tier opponents in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday as Barcelona needed two late goals to beat Ibiza and Real Madrid dug deep for victory over Unionistas de Salamanca.

Barca sit 44 places ahead of Ibiza and Madrid 56 above Unionistas but the lowly duo both came close to extraordinary upsets, only for Ibiza to lose 2-1 and Unionistas 3-1 in front of their jubilant home fans.

With Lionel Messi rested and not even on the bench, Antoine Griezmann proved the saviour for Barcelona, scoring twice in the second half, including a 94th-minute winner, after Pep Caballe had given the hosts a fairytale lead at Can Misses.

Discomfort was more fleeting for Madrid, who conceded an equaliser in the second-half following a brilliant run and finish from Unionistas’ Alvaro Romero, only to restore their advantage five minutes later.

Juan Gongora turned the ball into his own net after Gareth Bale, back from injury and illness, scored his first goal for his club since September 1.

Bale’s celebrations were notably muted and he had to go off in the second half.

“He sprained his ankle a little,” said coach Zinedine Zidane. “I don’t think it’s much but tomorrow we’ll see.”

At the end, Unionistas fans were waving their scarves with pride just as Ibiza’s supporters had applauded their team off, even though Griezmann had dashed their hopes just moments before.

Juve in semis 

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri complimented Cristiano Ronaldo’s mother as the Portuguese star extended his scoring streak in a 3-1 win over Roma to advance to the Italian Cup semifinals.

The Portuguese star picked up a Gonzalo Higuain cross after 26 minutes, finishing off from an angle in the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday.

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