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Barça qualify to Copa del Rey semi-finals after epic match in Granada

The team celebrating the first equalizer. (Source: GETTY IMAGES)

Barça qualified to the Copa del Rey semi-finals tonight after a tantalizing remuntada against Granada at Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes. Ronald Koeman, Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, and Jordi Alba all spoke post-game, lauding the team’s spirit.

At the 88th minute, Barça were 2-0 down and seemed to be out of contention courtesy of goals from Kenedy and Soldado for the Andalusian side. However, Barça fired twice in quick succession to equalize, first through Griezmann and then through Alba. In extra time, Barça took the lead through Griezmann before Granada brought back the score to level pegging with a penalty. Goals from Frenkie de Jong and Jordi Alba in the second half of extra time sealed Barça’s deserved qualification in a tantalizing showdown in Andalusia.

Here is what Koeman had to say after the game:

On if football was being unfair to Barça today
Definitely. We entered the game very strong, we played very well in the first twenty minutes. A mistake in build-up where you should not mess about cost us a goal. We must highlight the mentality of the team because we never lowered our arms. We were very unlucky with the chances that hit the woodwork. We did everything to win the game. We deserved it because of the team’s mentality, but this time we have shown that we know how to suffer. We were able to defend the result and we are justly deserving of the victory.

If he’s happy with Griezmann
I am very happy with Griezmann. I know that tonight is very important to him. The team needs him. With his effectiveness we are more dangerous.

If this is a turning point for the season
It helps to have atmosphere and strength in the team. It is the way. We have worked so hard that it may be the moment that the team begins to believe and feel very proud. And it comes to us at a very important time of the season.

If this match felt like a rollercoaster
It was an exciting match for many things. We were not good defensively, but we must highlight the mentality of the team, which has overcome the balls that hit the woodwork and bad luck.

If he still believes the team cannot compete for titles
I was referring to winning the three titles, the League, the Champions League and the Cup. I don’t think so. But I have always believed in the team. We have improved many things, especially in character. We have taken a giant step forward.

On Di Maria’s comments about Messi
It’s disrespectful that so many PSG people talk about Messi. They are heating up the game. He is still a Barça player.

On Sergi Roberto’s injury
A shame about his injury. We’ll see what the tests say at the end.

On Alba
He is key in our game. He also scored with his head today. He is vital. Hopefully he returns to the national team.

On if he believed the team was capable of making a comeback
Yes. It was an incredible effort from the players. Winning like this gives us vitamins (strength/motivation).

Here is what Griezmann had to say:

On how he would summarize this match
A nice and great cup match. Much better for a single match. We suffered a lot. When we scored the third goal we relaxed, but de Jong appeared like Pippo Inzaghi to solve it. de Jong wanted to step up because I scored two goals.

On the match’s importance to the team’s spirit
We gave a very good image until the end, we scored the equalizing goal almost at the end. We showed our winning mentality. This game will give us a lot of confidence.

On how he feels
Now I need to be regular. I’m very good since January. I want to continue like this until the end of the season. I have the confidence of the coach and my teammates.

On his recent goal-scoring run
The most important thing is not the goals. Those are streaks. The most important thing is the team.

Here is what de Jong had to say:

On the comeback
When we made it 2-1, they got a little nervous and we took advantage of it. Antoine’s first goal made us believe. This match shows that we are very well mentally.”

On the team’s continued development
The most difficult thing was when we were losing 2-0. We have been growing a lot in the last games. We are united and we show ourselves as a team and that is the important thing.

And finally, here’s what Jordi Alba had to say:

If he’s scored a header before
I don’t remember having scored a header. It’s a play that Leo and I always make. I saw Griezmann who was more open and I left him space to finish. I went in with everything. It was a goal that gave us life because it made us go into extra time. I liked the attitude of the team, it was exceptional.

On the feelings this match leaves the team with
This game is going to be a game changer for us, surely. I do not remember a comeback like this in a long time. We needed it. We are very close.

On the team’s performance
The first twenty minutes we played very well, but in an unfortunate play by the team they went 1-0 ahead. We came out very confident in the second half and they scored their second. We believed in ourselves. We did it, suffering, but we did it.

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