Friday 17 November 2017

Barca held in stalemate

Athletic Bilbao survived a constant state of siege to hold a weakened Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp in a King's Cup last-16 first-leg match last night.

La Liga leaders Barca had won 10 successive games in all competitions, scoring 31 goals in the last seven, but they ran out of ideas against their resolute Basque rivals. It is the first game since September 11 that the Catalan giants failed to score. The second leg at San Mames is scheduled for January 5.

With star Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente out with a pulled muscle, coach Joaquin Caparros deployed six midfielders and succeeded in smothering Barcelona's attack.

Lionel Messi and David Villa came on early second-half substitutes but were unable to produce a breakthrough.

Gorka Iraizoz tipped Andres Iniesta's effort over the bar in the first half, but it was not until Villa and Messi joined the game after the break that the pressure grew on his goal. Villa had the ball in the net near the end, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside, and Gerard Pique skewed a good chance wide.

Second division Cordoba scored a late equaliser through Pepe Diaz for a 1-1 draw with Deportivo Coruna, who had taken the lead through a penalty from Riki.

Irish Independent

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