'Great player' Ousmane Dembele strikes to send Barca through to Copa del Rey semi-finals

French forward scores to see off 10-man Real Sociedad at Camp Nou

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo described Ousmane Dembele as a "great player" after the French forward's second-half strike gave the Catalans a 1-0 win over 10-man Real Sociedad in their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday.

Real Sociedad came into the match on the back of nine consecutive wins in all competitions and almost scored in the 29th minute when Japanese youngster Take Kubo's strike hit the bar.

But their hopes of inflicting a surprise defeat on Barca at the Camp Nou were hit when forward Brais Mendez was shown a straight red card in the 40th minute for a wild challenge on Sergio Busquets.

Barcelona were the better side for most of the match after that but only scored once thanks to a brilliant counter-attack by man-of-the-match Dembele in the 52nd minute.

The electric winger ran through the right channel after receiving a perfectly placed long pass from his France teammate Jules Kounde and lashed an unstoppable right-foot strike into the top corner.

"[Dembele] had a great game, we know what a great player he is," Araujo told Movistar.

"He helps us with goals, he's taking good decisions, that's the most important thing, something that maybe was tricky for him at the beginning."

Sociedad should have equalised seven minutes later but Alexander Sorloth missed a sitter, skying a shot from inside the six-yard box from a Kubo cross.

Barca were again indebted to the goalkeeping heroics of Marc-Andre ter Stegen as the German stopper produced a string of saves to secure the win and stretch Barca's unbeaten streak to 12 games.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen punches the ball during the Copa Del Rey quarter-final against Real Sociedad. Getty Images

"It was a struggle for us after they were one-man down because they closed down well and defended relentlessly," added Araujo.

"I'm sure [coach] Xavi will give us a slap on the wrist, we probably should have closed out the game earlier. Now we need to correct the mistakes and move forward. I'm happy because we won at home and we continue on a good run."

Osasuna joined Barcelona in the semi-finals after they beat Sevilla 2-1 later on Wednesday thanks to an extra-time goal by Abde Ezzalzouli.

Chimy Avila opened the scoring for the hosts in the 71st minute but Youssef En Nesyri equalised in the 94th minute, taking the match to extra time.

Substitute Ezzalzouli scored the winner nine minutes into extra time on a counter-attack, slotting a right-foot shot inside the right post.

Updated: January 26, 2023, 8:23 AM