Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Barcelona: result, summary and goals
Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona: as it happened
On the whistle report: Rayo 1-2 Barcelona
(Reuters) - Lionel Messi returned from suspension to help guide Barcelona to a 2-1 win away to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.
Barca dominated the match and hit the woodwork three times but second division Rayo took a surprise lead in the 63rd minute when Barca keeper Neto failed to deal with a low cross and midfielder Fran Garcia pounced to bundle the ball over the line.
Rayo went looking for a second goal and were badly caught out on the break when Frenkie de Jong picked out Antoine Griezmann and the Frenchman laid the ball off for Messi to slot into the net from close range in the 70th minute.
The Argentine, who became Barca's record appearance maker in the competition with 76 Copa matches, was the architect of the second goal 10 minutes later, releasing Jordi Alba down the left wing with a sumptuous pass and De Jong finished off the defender's cross to send the Catalans into the last eight.
Messi should have added a third goal in added time after waltzing his way through the Rayo defence, but when it came to shoot he lost his footing and could only find the side netting.
"The truth is that was a difficult game, we really should have put it to bed far earlier, but the most important thing is we've got through," said Barca defender Ronald Araujo.
"Their strategy was to play with a very high defensive line but luckily we were able to play passes into space and find both goals that way."
Barca coach Ronald Koeman talked before the game of his desire to win the Copa, with his team looking unlikely to catch runaway La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, and he backed up his words by fielding a strong side.
The Dutchman took the surprise decision to start Messi and also fielded Sergio Busquets, Griezmann and De Jong, who is in scorching form in an advanced midfield role.
But Barca, who have lifted the Copa del Rey a record 30 times, were still lacking something until Koeman made a triple change just after going behind, introducing Alba, Ousmane Dembele and teenager Pedri.
"We were excellent from the start and let them off the hook on various occasions, messing up the final pass," Koeman added.
"We then showed our character when we went behind and produced a lot of quality to score the two goals."
Sevilla joined Barca in Friday's quarter-final draw by crushing 2019 Copa winners Valencia 3-0 at home.
Frenkie de Jong post-match: "I'm scoring more goals than usual. I do speak to the referees a lot, I need to stop that! We want to win the cup because it's a trophy and we want to win every trophy."
"Messi scores a lot and he's the best player in the history of football."
Rayo can be extremely proud of their performance tonight. They took the lead just past the hour mark. Koeman's changes at 1-0 led to Barcelona's quick comeback. De Jong was superb on the night. Messi got on the scoresheet too.
Barcelona advance to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey!
FT: Rayo 1-2 Barcelona
And it's a free to Barcelona. That should be that.
Barcelona clear again!
30 seconds left!
Mingueza fouls - Rayo earn themselves another free-kick!
Barcelona clear the danger!
It's a Rayo free just inside their own half.
Rayo play it long. One last chance to equalise!
There will be five additional minutes.
Messi slips past the keeper and defender but smacks his shot into the side netting. So close to a Barca third.
Rayo chance! Alvaro strikes low and hard - Neto saves and we head into injury time.
Yellow card for Braithwaite.
Rayo's corner leads to nothing. A foul in the box. Barca's free-kick.
Araújo is down. Getting treatment but he looks fine.
Ronald Araújo has been very impressive again tonight for Barcelona. He has been like a new signing since coming in to replace Gerard Piqué at centre-back.
Messi is fouled. Barcelona free.
Barcelona have just under five minutes plus injury time to hold onto their lead in Vallecas.
Barcelona have turned the game around in the last 20 minutes - coming from 1-0 down to leading 2-1. Koeman's changes have paid off. Alba with the assist for De Jong.
Rayo 1-2 Barcelona
A carbon copy of Barca's first - Alba plays it across the 6-yard box for Frenkie de Jong to bury it from close range. The Dutch midfielder has been superb tonight.
This is a Rayo side with plenty of injuries in their squad, competing with Barcelona. Very impressive stuff from Andoni Iraola's team. 1-1
Rayo clear Dembélé's effort. The Frenchman is just off the bench. Not ideal if you're Rayo's left-back.
Barcelona dominating the ball - Rayo have been pushed even deeper. The home side held the lead for six minutes before Messi tapped into an empty net.
ON Mario Suárez & Antonin Cortes
OFF Andres Martin & Yacine Qasmi
Koeman has decided to shake things up with just over 20 minutes remaining and his side behind, thanks to a Fran García goal.
Three changes for Barcelona:
ON Dembélé, Pedri & Alba
OFF Junior, Puig & Trincao
What a shock this will be if Rayo hold on.
De Jong scores but it's flagged for offside. Correct decision.
Rayo 1-0 Barcelona
Neto spills the cross at the near post and the former Real Madrid youth team player Fran García taps home.
Fran García puts Rayo ahead!
Sweet left-footed strike from Fran García - Neto holds onto it.
Just over a half an hour remaining in Madrid. We'll have extra-time if it remains 0-0.
Araújo clears the Rayo attack. The 21-year-old defender was playing in the Uruguayan second division just over three years ago. He has a big future in the game.
Oscar Trejo goes into the book for a late challenge on Riqui Puig.
Messi shoots with his right foot - a rare sight - flies over the bar.
Dimitrievski takes control of the Barca danger. The Rayo keeper has been impressive tonight.
Frightening counter from Barca. De Jong with a lung-bursting run. Leads to a corner.
Sensational effort from the Argentine. His free bounces off the far upright. Barca have hit the bar three times tonight. 0-0
Messi hits his free-kick off the bar!
Messi to take
Free-kick to Barcelona! Rayo can't handle Trincao down the right flank.
Neither side has made any half-time changes.
We're underway for the second half. Koeman will be expecting a shift in performance this half. Rayo will be aiming to knock the Catalan giants out of the cup.
The players are back out on the pitch for the second half.
Barcelona have had the majority of the chances in the opening half in Vallecas. Rayo, on the other hand, will believe they can get something from this game and cause another cup shock.
HT: Rayo 0-0 Barcelona
Rayo boss Andoni Iraola, who is only 38, will be delighted to get his players into the dressing room at half-time with the game tied at 0-0.
We have two minutes of added-on time.
Nice play from Rayo down the left but they eventually pass it out of play for a Barca goal kick.
It has been a lively first half. 0-0
Again, the referee says no.
Barcelona appeal for a penalty after Trincao was pushed over.
Rayo have had a very rocky few minutes, with serious Barca pressure but it remains 0-0 at the Estadio de Vallecas.
A member of the Rayo backroom team has been sent off by the referee for complaints made from the stand.
Messi did so well to pick out De Jong on the edge of the box, beating three men before laying it off.
DE JONG! This time it's the Dutch midfielder and he buries his left-footed effort wide.
Barcelona are really threatening now and should be ahead. Rayo will be lucky if they get to half-time and it's still 0-0.
Dimitrievski saves from Griezmann! Not his greatest strike.
IT'S OFF THE BAR AGAIN!
Riqui Puig shoots and it's deflected on onto the bar. Barca really should have scored. 4 on 2, but Rayo get away with it. 0-0
That's a nasty one from Riqui Puig on Trejo. He catches the captain with the studs and Trejo goes down.
Rayo are playing very compact and not offering Barca much space between the lines.
It remains 0-0 after the opening half an hour. Rayo will be the happier side of the two as Koeman roams in front of the away dugout, looking for ideas to break down the home side.
It's a very calm evening in Madrid. Nice conditions for a January night game and a drastic change from the snowfall witnessed in Madrid earlier this month.
Free-kick for Rayo played to the back post and headed straight into Neto's hands. Rayo will be happy to push Barca up the pitch.
With Busquets sitting, Riqui Puig, De Jong, Griezmann, Trincao and Messi are acting as an attacking five and posing a lot of questions for Rayo.
Barcelona the side looking more dangerous now, as was expected.
Messi shoots from distance but Dimitrievski deals with it. Barcelona with two chances in less than a minute.
The ball crashes of the bar from De Jong. So close to opening the scoring for Barcelona.
Rayo were expected to start with a back 5 but they have started here with a 4 and have dealt with the Barca threat quite well thus far.
Mingueza clears some Rayo pressure. Barcelona rebuild with De Jong, who has been their best player in recent weeks.
The score remains 0-0 after the opening quarter of an hour in Madrid.
Messi looks for a free after getting pushed about. Referee says not this time.
A nice head-to-head of the two teams put together by our friends at SofaScore.
A Barcelona free-kick fizzes through the box but Dimitrievski pushes it away. Good reaction from the keeper.
Santiago Comesaña receives a yellow for a pull on Messi.
Griezmann has taken up a wide left role in the opening 10 minutes.
The referee says there wasn't enough contact. Goal kick to Rayo.
Barcelona wait for the decision.
The referee is checking...
Trincao goes over..this could be a penalty!
On the way to tonight's match against the Catalan giants, Rayo have beaten Elche, Haro Deportivo and Teruel in the Copa del Rey.
World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann shows his class with a wonderful touch. Plays it inside to Puig but Rayo hold firm.
Riqui Puig gets a deserved start after his goal against Elche at the weekend. The lively midfielder is likely to cause Rayo some midfield trouble.
Captain Trejo shoots well over for the home side.
Lively start here in Madrid!
Corner for Barcelona! Good play from Firpo down the left earns a corner.
Barcelona are playing from right to left.
We're underway in Vallecas! Rayo vs Barcelona!
Barcelona are playing in their pink away strip tonight.
Kick-off is coming up! We get underway in Vallecas in three minutes! The players are in the tunnel.
- 28Mario Hernández
- 33Francisco Garcia
- 24Esteban Saveljich
- 3Iván Martos
- 6Santiago Comesaña
- 20Joni Montiel
- 14Yacine Qasmi
- 11Andrés Martín
- 24Júnior Firpo
- 15Clement Lenglet
- 4Ronald Araújo
- 28Óscar Mingueza
- 21Frenkie De Jong
- 12Ricard Puig
Starts for Junior Firpo and Francisco Trincão
Kick-off in Vallecas gets underway in just over 20 minutes. Lionel Messi starts for Barcelona. Koeman also hands starts to Junior Firpo and Francisco Trincão.
Player salaries: paid or unpaid in January?
When asked if some Barça salaries were too high, Ronald Koeman replied: "The club makes the contract and the player accepts it or not. We have to train and win games and trophies. We have all helped the club with the salary reduction."
He added on the subject of January wages not being paid: "I don't know if that's true. You'd have to ask."
Koeman is taking a strong side to second-tier Rayo, with the Copa del Rey looking likely to be Barca's best chance of winning silverware this season, with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both out.
"It depends on the state of the players. If there are tired boys, we'll have to change," he said.
"We'll take a strong team to get through this tie. We know the road is shorter to winning something. The teams who are left are strong and we saw that in the Supercopa de Espana.
"[Messi] is really looking forward to playing and winning things. He's a winning player who wants titles. To win something, we need Messi fit."
Rayo vs Barça
Fans gather outside Rayo Vallecano's Estadio de Vallecas ahead of tonight's clash with Barcelona. (Reuters)
Debt issues at FC Barcelona
Barça's latest financial figures, dated August 17 but only released this month after their previous AGM was postponed, indicate their total debt has now exceeded €1.1billion.
Their short-term debt has risen to €730m, having increased by €225m since the 2018-19 season largely due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic: specifically, the lack of matchday revenue as games continue to be played behind closed doors, and the reduction in tourists visiting the Camp Nou facilities.
Although Barça top the 2021 Deloitte Football Money League with total revenues of €715.1m, the stark numbers released by the club paint a concerning picture for prospective new presidents Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa.
Last November, it was announced the players had agreed to a salary reduction that would save the club €122m and help to avoid widespread layoffs of non-playing staff, but interim president Carlos Tusquets claimed last month that the squad would not be paid for January due to the precarious financial situation.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Copa del Rey clash with Rayo Vallecano, Koeman stressed the senior squad was dully focused on keeping their trophy push alive.
"Barça is a great club that has been affected by covid and suffers more than others, also from the tourism side of things," he said. "But all the big teams can take numbers that aren't good, not just here."
The teams are in!
Barcelona line out as follows:
Neto - Mingueza, Araujo, Lenglet, Junior Firpo - Busquets, Riqui Puig, De Jong - Griezmann, Trincao, Messi.
Barcelona matchday squad
We'll have team news very soon. Ronald Koeman has selected the following squad for the trip to take on Rayo.
Barcelona arrive in Vallecas
Tonight's kick-off is 21:00 CET. You can follow all the action from the Estadio de Vallecas with us on AS English.
Today marks the sixth anniversary of the death of legendary Rayo goalkeeper Wilfred Agbonavbare. Willy was a fan favourite at Vallecas.
Rayo in the Copa del Rey last 16
The team from Vallecas lost at the weekend in Spain's Second Division against Mallorca, going down 3-1 at home to last season's Primera side.
On the way to tonight's match against the Catalan giants, Rayo have beaten Elche, Haro Deportivo and Teruel in the Copa del Rey.
Koeman on Messi:
He's really keen to play and wants to win things, he's a winner who loves winning trophies. I'll name the squad tomorrow morning, we will have to wait until the evening to see if he starts or not.
In one sense, it would be good for us if he rests. He's fresh and hasn't any aches. To win anything, we will need Messi at his best.
Koeman versus Rayo
Ronald Koeman enjoyed some success over Rayo Vallecano as a Barcelona player, scoring penalties and free-kicks against the Madrid club. He'll be hoping for more joy in Vallecas tonight.
Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona
Barcelona travel to the Spanish capital for tonight's tricky cup fixture against Rayo,who currently sit fourth in Segunda, with hopes of a return to LaLiga.
Ronald Koeman pre-match: "We play the Copa del Rey to win the title"
The Dutch coach said that Barcelona are taking tonight's Copa del Rey tie against Rayo seriously and added that Messi is keen to play.
"Let's hope we can win the game without any problems, but the main thing is making sure we go through and if that means the game has to be decided in extra-time then we will deal with that. In our situation, let's hope it doesn't come to that, but we will need to work very hard."
Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona: how and where to watch
All the info you need to know on how and where to watch Rayo Vallecano host Barcelona in the Copa del Rey round of 16 match on 27 January. You can also follow all the action right here on AS English. We'll be keeping you up to date with the latest from Madrid.
Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona live: welcome!
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of this Copa del Rey fixture as Rayo Vallecano host Barcelona at the Estadio de Vallecas. Kick-off is at 21:00 CEST.