Real Sociedad scraped past second-tier Mirandes at Anoeta on Thursday to claim a narrow 2-1 first-leg advantage in their Copa del Rey semi-final.

La Real stunned Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the previous round, but Mirandes had knocked out three LaLiga teams en route to the last four and caused concern for top-flight opposition once more.

Captain Mikel Oyarzabal dispatched a ninth-minute spot-kick for Sociedad, yet they were pegged back by Matheus Aias and scarcely deserved the second Martin Odegaard lashed in to restore their lead before the interval.

The second period brought marginal improvement in the home ranks but no further goals, leaving the tie in the balance ahead of the return fixture next month.

Sociedad's opener came only after Alex Remiro was forced into a smart, low stop from Martin Merquelanz with just five minutes on the clock.

Portu earned a penalty as Odei Onaindia dallied in the area and allowed the home winger to get between man and ball before going down, and Oyarzabal coolly converted from 12 yards.

Mirandes deservedly levelled six minutes before half-time, as Mickael Malsa pounced on some careless play 20 yards from goal and fed Matheus Aias, the striker twisting to send in a low shot that deflected beyond Remiro.

But Sociedad responded swiftly. Limones spilled Odegaard's powerful drive but recovered well to block Portu's follow-up, only for the Real Madrid loanee to rifle in a second rebound.

Matheus Aias blazed over from close range heading into the break, while there were big saves at either end following the restart, Limones denying Portu before Remiro parried an Antonio Sanchez strike.

The two goalkeepers were largely underworked thereafter until Limones superbly turned away a header from one of his own defenders in the fourth minute of stoppage time, teeing up an intriguing second leg at Estadio Municipal de Anduva.


What does it mean? Sociedad warned

Mirandes' earlier exploits in this competition meant La Real had no excuse as they faced this stern examination, surely well aware of the threat their opposition posed. The LaLiga side still struggled to get to grips with Merquelanz and Alvaro Rey, though, and must be better in the return leg to get the job done.

Martin up for the cup

Odegaard is enjoying a fine season in San Sebastian, and he has saved some of his best performances for this cup run. His third goal in the competition this term came at a crucial time, while a gorgeous pass early in the second half set Portu through, the busy wide man unable to beat Limones for a two-goal lead that might have put the tie beyond Mirandes.

Lacking in key areas

On the balance of play - particularly in the first half - Mirandes were good value for at least a draw from this first leg, but shortcomings at either end of the pitch proved costly. Onaindia paid the price as he reacted slowly to a ball into the box and felled Portu, while Matheus Aias, despite scoring a fortunate equaliser, missed one big opportunity.

What's next?

Focus returns to league action for the coming weeks, with La Real visiting Eibar on Sunday as Mirandes host Albacete. The two sides reconvene for the Copa second leg at Mirandes on March 4.

Athletic Bilbao have taken charge of their Copa del Rey semi-final after claiming a 1-0 win over Granada at San Mames, but they will be frustrated at failing to secure a more commanding victory.

Gaizka Garitano's men were in control for most of the game, crafting several big chances and having two goals disallowed, but only take a slender victory to Granada for the second leg.

It came as little surprise when Athletic went in front in the 42nd minute, as Iker Muniain tapped home after fine work from Inaki Williams on the left flank.

Athletic remained the dominant side after the interval, but twice offside calls prevented them doubling their advantage, giving Diego Martinez's Granada hope for March's return encounter.

After an even start, Athletic began to carve through Granada regularly and went agonisingly close to the breakthrough in the 15th minute, but Rui Silva tipped Wiliams' fierce drive wide.

Two chances then fell to Mikel Vesga soon after – Silva palming his wicked long-range strike away from the top-left corner, before then blocking a tamer effort from inside the box a few minutes later.

Athletic eventually got the deserved opener just before half-time, the lively Williams brilliantly bringing down a lofted pass with his chest and then showing great composure to tee up an easy close-range finish for Muniain.

The hosts were twice denied a second goal inside the first 15 minutes of the second half, with Yeray Alvarez's strike chalked off for offside before Ander Capa's 20-yard volley was disallowed after a VAR review adjudged the offside Williams to have obstructed Silva's sight.

Granada began to offer some attacking threat towards the end, with Unai Simon turning Carlos Neva's drive around the post and then catching Maxime Gonalons' header from the resulting corner, as Athletic held on.

 

What does it mean?

Athletic have the aggregate lead, but Granada are not to be underestimated and represent formidable opponents in their own stadium.

In 12 home matches across all competitions this season, Granada have won eight. Three of the four teams to take something away from the Nuevo Los Carmenes are Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad, all of whom are in the top six.

When there's a Williams, there's a way

More or less everything good about Athletic's play went through Muniain or Williams, or both, but the latter was the standout performer. He gave the Granada defence so many issues with his pace and movement, and his role in the winning goal was just sublime.

Machis anonymous

Granada struggled immensely to offer any form of attacking threat, with Carlos Fernandez and Roberto Soldado provided with poor service. Darwin Machis should have been one of the players supporting them, but he touched the ball just 13 times before his 71st-minute withdrawal, failing to create a single chance.

What's next?

Athletic welcome Osasuna on Sunday as they return to LaLiga action, having not won any of their past eight league matches. Granada play host to Real Valladolid the day before. The two sides resume hostilities in the second leg at the Nuevo Los Carmenes on March 5.

Aritz Aduriz hopes to end his Athletic Bilbao career by winning the Copa del Rey, admitting he had grown tired of watching Barcelona and Real Madrid "win everything".

Athletic knocked Barca out of the competition at the quarter-final stage last week thanks to a stoppage-time own goal from Sergio Busquets.

Madrid had earlier been defeated 4-3 at home by Athletic's Basque rivals Real Sociedad, marking the first time in 65 years that Spain's grandest two clubs had been eliminated from the Copa on the same day.

The semi-finals will see Athletic face Granada and Sociedad take on Mirandes, with the decision to reformat the competition by removing two-legged ties prior to the last four paying dividends for some of Spain's lesser lights.

Aduriz was part of the team beaten by Barca in the 2015 final, during the Catalans' run of winning the trophy in four consecutive years.

Indeed, Athletic have lost three Copa finals to Barca since 2009, and Aduriz is now eager to end his career by making the most of a more level playing field.

"[The new format] is not discredited; on the contrary, it has more value," said the striker at the Panenka magazine gala. "We are a little tired of seeing Barcelona and Real Madrid win everything.

"But it is nice to see competitions with more dynamism. You can see it in England, [where] it's enriching. It's a format that people like.

"I have been fantasising about [winning the cup] for a long time. At the beginning, it was a fantasy, and it may be closer now, although it is very difficult.

"Imagine retiring from football this season and winning a title. It's anyone's dream."

Aduriz also made it clear he is in favour of VAR, despite persistent criticism of the technology from across Europe's top leagues.

VAR has been criticised since its introduction, but Aduriz stressed he is in favour of the new technology.

"I love VAR," he said. "It is clear that we have to improve. It is new and it will evolve, but there is more success than the opposite.

"It makes me calmer on the pitch."

Barcelona supporters can expect to see more of young attacker Alex Collado but head coach Quique Setien admitted Riqui Puig's first-team chances could be limited this season.

Collado has made just one LaLiga appearance this term, playing for five minutes as a substitute in Barca's 2-0 defeat at Valencia in January, while Puig has played for 22 minutes across two cameos.

The pair are seen as two of the club's brightest prospects as established players like Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets enter the latter stages of their careers, and Setien indicated that Collado's ability to play as part of a front three means he is of more immediate use than central midfielder Puig.

"They are two very different kind of players," Setien told reporters.

"We try to think which player we need most at certain times of the game. They're two very good players and they've both got chances to play. We're getting to know them better every day.

"We're seeing what they're capable of doing for us in every training session. It's a time of learning.

"With Riqui there are a lot of players in the position where he would normally play but Collado, playing up front, he's going to get chances. We'll have to see how things go."

Setien saw his players get knocked out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday, when they were beaten 1-0 by Athletic Bilbao.

As he prepared for Sunday's trip to face his former club Real Betis, he reflected on the positive aspects of that game and indicated he is hopeful of ending a three-game winless run on the road in LaLiga.

"It's about the dynamic of how this team has been playing away from home for some time," said Setien. "The other day I thought we improved a lot but unfortunately the result didn't go our way.

"We need to try to take the good conclusions from that game and it's a question of getting back out onto the pitch, playing another game. There's not much time to dwell on your sorrows at this club. You need to be fresh and lucid.

"We've improved a lot. We're seeing continuity but the three points are important because we want to be chasing for the title until the end.

"It's time to ratify the improvement in the cup at a really difficult ground.

"We were hurt by losing the cup game but we've learned a lot from it."

Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad could meet in the Copa del Rey final after the Basque rivals were kept apart in the semi-final draw.

Sociedad secured their place in the last four with a thrilling 4-3 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday, with Athletic beating Barcelona 1-0 hours later thanks to a last-gasp Inaki Williams header.

It marked the first time in 65 years that LaLiga's top two clubs were eliminated from the Copa on the same day.

Gaizka Garitano's Athletic will now face Granada, who knocked out holders Valencia in the quarter-finals, while Sociedad will meet Segunda Division side Mirandes.

Athletic and Sociedad will host their respective first legs, which take place on February 12, with the return fixtures scheduled for March 4.

The final is expected to be held on April 18 at La Cartuja in Seville, which last hosted a major club football match in 2003, when it staged the UEFA Cup final between Porto and Celtic.

Barcelona have been branded "a club of clowns" by Christophe Dugarry after a dismal week for the club culminated in Copa del Rey elimination.

A 1-0 quarter-final loss to Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Thursday was the latest blow for Barca in a turbulent period.

After failing to sign an attacker before the end of the January transfer deadline, Ousmane Dembele suffered a hamstring tear that requires surgery and is expected to miss the rest of campaign.

Sporting director Eric Abidal also gave an interview in which he cited a lack of effort being put in by some players as a motivating factor for the dismissal of Ernesto Valverde, which drew the ire of Lionel Messi.

There have consequently been reports Messi could leave Camp Nou at the end of the season, and Dugarry – who spent six months at Barca in the 1997-98 season – was scathing in his criticism of the way the club has been run in recent years.

"It's a club of clowns. Everything is done backwards," Dugarry said on RMC Sport.

"They buy [Philippe] Coutinho, Dembele, they buy guys and then sell them. You get the impression there is no project in this club.

"At every transfer window there is a problem. They've recruited very badly since the departures of Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta. They've spent loads.

"And above all they have a very bad image. There are far too many people who do not have the elegance, the class that there should be at a club of this standing.

"It's really a club that has no class."

Jordi Alba joined Lionel Messi in calling out Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal for "throwing s***" within the club.

Abidal this week said in an interview with Catalan publication Sport that Barca took the decision to sack Ernesto Valverde after he and his colleagues identified "many players weren't satisfied nor working hard and there was also an internal communication problem".

Messi was disappointed the former left-back chose to tar all members of the squad with the same brush and did not specify names in his remarks.

Barca boss Quique Setien said on Wednesday the six-time Ballon d'Or winner remains happy at the club, with speculation mounting that he could opt to leave at the end of the season.

However, a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday was the latest blow for the club, who this week announced Ousmane Dembele will undergo surgery on a hamstring problem that is expected to rule him out of the rest of the campaign.

Speaking after the game at San Mames, Alba followed Messi's lead and claimed Abidal should have known better.

"This club gets enough s*** thrown at it from the outside so we shouldn't be throwing s*** at ourselves. That is the line to follow," said Alba.

"Abidal was a player, he is loved by the fans and that's why he should know what it's like inside the dressing room and how players feel."

Sergio Busquets headed the ball into his own net in the 93rd minute in Bilbao but Alba was pleased with the club's display.

"I think he had a very good game, one of the best of the season. It's a shame we lost at the last minute, but that's football," he said.

"I'm very proud of the team, especially for the level of the game. We have to continue like this.

"It's clearly the right path, we only missed the win. We played well, with possession and very clear openings. The result is a pity."

Real Madrid attacker Vinicius Junior dismissed speculation over a move to Paris Saint-Germain, insisting he wants to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Vinicius was linked with PSG in January – the Ligue 1 champions' sporting director Leonardo a reported admirer of his fellow Brazilian.

However, Vinicius has no plans to leave LaLiga giants Madrid, where the 19-year-old arrived in 2018.

Speaking after Thursday's shock 4-3 Copa del Rey quarter-final loss to Real Sociedad, Vinicius told reporters: "There's no choice, I want to stay at Madrid."

Trailing Sociedad 1-0 at half-time, Madrid found themselves 3-0 down before the hour-mark in the Spanish capital.

Marcelo reduced the deficit in the 59th minute but Mikel Merino restored Sociedad's three-goal advantage 10 minutes later.

Late goals from Rodrygo Goes and Nacho gave Madrid some hope, however, it was not enough for the LaLiga leaders at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I would like to ask to the fans to keep this way up, we are going to fight until the end of the season in order to win La Liga and Champions League too," Vinicius said.

Vinicius added: "We were not in good shape, and Sociedad plays football really well, they're well-placed in LaLiga. It was a difficult match. The only Copa one played at home, and we lost.

"It is hard to lose at home. We were unbeaten at home and we got beaten on the single match we can't afford to lose. But on the other hand, we keep fighting until the end, fighting to keep in good shape looking forward the end of this season."

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid – three points clear of Barcelona atop LaLiga, travel to Osasuna on Sunday.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien believes the club have taken a step forward, despite crashing out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Inaki Williams' 93rd-minute goal condemned last season's runners-up Barca to a 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals.

Barca have lost back-to-back away games under Setien, who replaced Ernesto Valverde last month, however the Spanish boss maintains the LaLiga champions are heading in the right direction.

"Taking into account what has happened to us in other games from home, we have taken a step forward in terms of what we have to improve," Setien told reporters.

"It is the same as ever; there are days when you have one chance and put it in, and there are days where you have ten and can't do it. There isn't a reasonable explanation.

"I have never known what to blame it on. Their goal came from a play that wasn't dangerous. There are things that can't be controlled and this is one of them.

"Everything went well, except for the result. I am happy with the team's work."

Setien added: "We controlled the second half. Marc-Andre [ter Stegen] didn't have any saves to make and it was a shame because we had the game under control.

"We created several clear chances and they got the goal when there was no time for us to react. We looked good and we were the better team.

"We didn't win but it will come. It is a pity the competition doesn't give us the chance for revenge but we must be positive despite not deserving to be eliminated."

Barca – three points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid – travel to Real Betis on Sunday.

Real Madrid and Barcelona exited the Copa del Rey on the same date for the first time since 1955 following shock defeats.

LaLiga giants Madrid and Barca both crashed out in the quarter-finals on Thursday, stunned by Basque pair Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao respectively.

Madrid were upstaged 4-3 by visiting Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Lionel Messi's Barca – runners-up for six successive seasons – conceded a 93rd-minute goal in a 1-0 loss away to Athletic.

It is the first time in 65 years Madrid and Barca have been eliminated on the same day – the pair ousted by Sevilla and Athletic in the 1955 semi-finals.

LaLiga leaders Madrid and Barca will now turn their attention to league and Champions League honours.

Madrid – three points clear atop LaLiga – face Manchester City in the Champions League last 16, while Barca meet Napoli.

Gerard Pique said Barcelona's dressing room was united despite the LaLiga champions suffering a crushing blow in an already troubling week, eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey.

A 1-0 defeat to Athletic saw Barcelona knocked out of the Copa in the quarter-finals on Thursday, with that familiar route to silverware now cut off to the 30-time winners.

The setback followed criticism from director of football Eric Abidal, who questioned the team's effort under former head coach Ernesto Valverde, which led to a rebuke from star man and captain Lionel Messi.

"It's not time to air the dirty washing. The dressing room is fully united," Barca defender Pique told reporters. "Elimination is a big blow but we said in the dressing room that we've taken a step forward and played well, despite all the noise that's been generated."

He added, according to several Spanish newspapers: "We have to focus on playing and winning. We have to return to winning ways. The players have the ability to keep winning and we are working on that every day, finding a better feel for the game."

With LaLiga and the Champions League still in their sights, Pique said of Barcelona, who are three points behind Real Madrid: "There is enough confidence and talent to be able to win the two remaining titles."

Pique hobbled off in the second half in Bilbao with what initially appeared to be a groin injury, but he said the blow was to his adductor and "not serious".

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Barcelona looked to be on the right track, after a match they could easily have won.

Messi and Antoine Griezmann missed clear chances before Inaki Williams headed the winner deep in second-half stoppage time.

"The first thing is to congratulate Athletic, who will be in the semi-finals, but I also thank the Barca fans who have come and I also congratulate the Barca players because they fought, dominated and played well. [Athletic] have only had one chance and they scored," Bartomeu told Barca TV.

He said that he appreciated Barcelona's "performance and ambition".

"The ambition and the attitude that I saw on the pitch encourages me with a view to LaLiga and the Champions League, so successes can come," Bartomeu added.

"I repeat that we had clear occasions, such as those of Griezmann and Messi, and we dominated. Now we focus on LaLiga and the Champions League, but I want to emphasise the ambition, the attitude and the work done. We deserved to go through."

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said, according to AS: "It is a sad day for everyone. We have two competitions that we have to keep fighting in. This does not stop, we have to continue, we have done things well and we have had the game quite under control. In an isolated play at the end we are out of the Copa."

Zinedine Zidane felt the Real Madrid XI he sent out for Thursday's 4-3 Copa del Rey quarter-final loss to Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu should have been good enough to progress.

Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard opened the scoring and an Alexander Isak brace saw Sociedad surge into a 3-0 lead before the hour.

Marcelo pulled a goal back and, after Mikel Merino made it 4-1, late goals from substitute Rodrygo Goes and Nacho left the visitors hanging on, with Andoni Gorosabel dismissed for a second booking in stoppage time.

Alphonse Areola was culpable for Odegaard's goal, while James Rodriguez was withdrawn at the break and Brahim Diaz had a minimal impact upon the contest.

Nevertheless, Zidane maintained a team that featured captain Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema had more than enough to get the job done.

"I put out a team that thought I could do well," Zidane told reporters afterwards.

"I don't think we were wrong with the team, but there is a rival who played very well and that has cost us.

"Here we are all together, when you win and when you lose."

Zidane felt Madrid grew into the game after the interval, only to be punished by frequent and uncharacteristic defensive lapses.

"The second half was better than the first and we tried until the end," he said.

"Even when it was 1-4 we tried. The opponent played very well and in the first half we had a lot of difficulty with their pressure. We also had defensive mistakes."

LaLiga leaders Madrid are back in action at Osasuna on Sunday, chasing a fifth consecutive top-flight win.

"This hurts, yes, you have to tell the truth," Zidane added.

"But you have to think about Sunday. You have to recover because the effort has been great."

Barcelona stumbled to a new setback in their troubled week as Inaki Williams' header in added time dumped last season's beaten finalists out of the Copa del Rey.

A hard-fought quarter-final appeared destined for extra time until Williams applied enough of a touch to Ibai Gomez's inswinging cross from the right flank to send the ball beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the net.

The winner in the third minute of stoppage time saw Athletic through to the last four and, with Real Madrid surprisingly beaten at home by Real Sociedad just hours earlier, it means neither of Spain's two heavyweight clubs are left standing.

Lionel Messi, who had made the headlines in the lead-up to the game for criticising director of football Eric Abidal, had Barca's best chance, only to be denied by Unai Simon's outstretched left leg late in the second half.

The Athletic goalkeeper had also denied substitute Antoine Griezmann but, for the first time in seven seasons, the Catalan club will not be involved in the final of the competition.

Martin Odegaard gave his parent club a telling reminder of his talents as Real Sociedad stunned Real Madrid with a 4-3 victory in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

The 21-year-old playmaker opened the scoring midway through the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu, assisted by a dreadful goalkeeping error from Alphonse Areola.

That was Odegaard's sixth goal in the first season of a planned two-campaign loan stint in San Sebastian and Sociedad striker Alexander Isak then took centre stage with two goals in as many second-half minutes.

 

Mikel Merino made it 4-1 after Marcelo pulled one back for Madrid, and Sociedad held out to hand Zinedine Zidane's shuffled line-up a first defeat in 22 matches, despite goals from Rodrygo Goes and Nacho and a red card for Andoni Gorosabel in a riotous finale.

Areola erred terribly to reward an enterprising start from Sociedad, pushing Isak's strike into Odegaard's path before allowing the midfielder's first-time follow-up to slide embarrassingly through his legs.

James Rodriguez's snapshot from the edge of the box drew a fine stop from Alex Remiro low to his right, with the Real Sociedad goalkeeper denying Vinicius Jr and Federico Valverde in quick succession before Sergio Ramos planted a 39th-minute header against the crossbar from an offside position.

Isak's wayward finishing had threatened to undermine Sociedad's fine work during the first half and he had a 49th-minute effort chalked off when a VAR review showed him to be offside on the end of Odegaard's throughball.

But the Sweden forward swivelled to superbly volley a chipped cross from Ander Barrenetxea – on as a half-time replacement for Adnan Januzaj – into the top left corner.

Isak then made further mockery of his earlier wastefulness by thundering an unstoppable shot high beyond Areola from Nacho's mishit clearance.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Remiro's earlier sureness deserted him as Marcelo fired through his grasp at the near post, handing Madrid a 59th-minute lifeline.

More slapdash defending sealed their fate, however, with Merino the unlikely and unmarked beneficiary when Isak turned provider.

Madrid almost dug themselves out of a hole of their own making, with Vinicius cutting back for Rodrygo to slam in after having a header of his own disallowed for offside.

Nacho's stoppage-time header and Gorosabel's second yellow card, for a foul on Vinicius, meant Sociedad stumbled over the line in a manner at odds with their earlier brilliance.

Lionel Messi was given the chance to do his talking on the pitch on Thursday after he was named in the Barcelona starting line-up for their Copa del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao.

Messi made headlines this week when criticising Eric Abidal, the Spanish club's director of football, for suggesting some Barca players were not working hard enough under previous boss Ernesto Valverde.

The Argentina international called out Abidal for his comments in the media, telling the Frenchman he should name the individuals who were not pulling their weight.

Such a reaction has raised questions over Messi's future at Camp Nou, though the 32-year-old was selected in the XI for the quarter-final tie against Athletic.

Ansu Fati was also chosen in the team, the teenager keeping his place after scoring both goals in Barcelona's 2-1 LaLiga win over Levante at the weekend.

Head coach Quique Setien made just one change from that side, bringing in Sergi Roberto to replace Antoine Griezmann.

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