Kounde, Rakitic give Sevilla big advantage in semi with Barca

·3-min read

SEVILLE, Spain (Reuters) - Sevilla defender Jules Kounde scored an extraordinary solo goal and Ivan Rakitic struck against his old side in a 2-0 win over Barcelona in a Copa del Rey semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

French centre back Kounde opened the scoring in the 25th minute, dribbling from his own area and playing a one-two with a team mate before bursting past four Barca players to confidently slot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The Barca keeper made a superb save to prevent Sergio Escudero doubling Sevilla's lead at the end of the first half but Croatia midfielder Rakitic made sure of the victory with a thumping finish into the roof of the net in the 85th minute.

Barca felt they should have been awarded a penalty at 1-0 down when Jordi Alba was tripped on the edge of the area but referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz gave a free kick without checking with the VAR whether the foul had taken place inside the box.

"Everyone has told me it was a penalty," said Barca coach Ronald Koeman.

"They made a lot of fouls but clever fouls and they defended very well. I think we deserved more, we played well and created a lot of chances. I think it's a harsh result for us given what we did on the pitch."

Lionel Messi could have snatched a late away goal but was thwarted by Sevilla keeper Bono and Julen Lopetegui's side saw out the win without conceding to take a big advantage into the second leg at the Camp Nou on March 3.

The ban on supporters attending matches due to coronavirus restrictions did little to dissuade locals getting fired up for the game and the home team's bus was greeted by pockets of chanting fans letting off flares when it arrived.

FLAILING LEG

Barca made the better start and would have taken the lead but for the first of three outstanding saves from keeper Bono to thwart Messi, the Moroccan blocking the Argentine's shot with his flailing leg.

Kounde fired Barca a warning shot by shooting just wide of the far post and the 22-year-old soon steamrolled through the Barca defence to score the opener, further increasing his appeal to the top European clubs circling to sign him.

Sevilla, fourth in La Liga and one point behind Barca, controlled the first half but Barca enjoyed more possession after the interval and Bono kept out another strike from Messi.

The hosts found their second goal by storming forward on the counter-attack, Rakitic bursting beyond his former team mates to latch on to a punt forward and hammering past Ter Stegen for a goal he barely celebrated.

"We put in a complete performance and the clean sheet is thanks to the work of the whole team," said Sevilla's Kounde.

"We suffered a little more in the second half but everyone stuck to the coach's plan and it paid off."

Athletic Bilbao host Levante on Thursday in the first leg of the other semi-final. The final takes place in Seville's La Cartuja stadium on April 17.

(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)