- Xavi will be back under the microscope at Barcelona after this latest cup exit
- Brothers Inaki and Nico Williams struck in extra-time to eliminate the Catalans
- From Kevin Keegan to Arsene Wenger… IAN LADYMAN picks his top five managerial meltdowns on It’s All Kicking Off
Iñaki Williams went straight from being knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana to knocking Barcelona out of the Spanish Cup.
On Monday he was a substitute as Ghana failed to win their final group game and on Tuesday, as soon as their fate was sealed, he was on a plane back to Europe.
He landed in Paris at 6am on Wednesday from where his club had a private jet waiting to take him to Bilbao – it was worth it.
With 107 minutes gone of Athletic’s epic Copa del Rey quarter-final, on as a substitute, he ran on to Asier Villalibre’s cross. His first shot hit the post but he turned in the rebound to put Athletic 3-2 up.
They saw out the second half of extra time with Nico Williams, Iñaki’s brother, adding a fourth to eliminate Xavi‘s Barcelona – robbing him of his best chance to win the trophy he needs to win this season to keep his job into next year.
Inaki Williams returned from the Africa Cup of Nations to help dump Barcelona out of the cup
He was eliminated with Ghana but returned to Athletic Bilbao and he was back with a bang
The defeat, which ended 4-2, has piled the pressure on beleaguered Barcelona boss Xavi
It ended badly for Barça; it started badly too. They were behind after just 35 seconds – incredible to think that twice previously this season they had made an even worse start to a game conceding after 17 seconds against Granada and 18 seconds against Alaves.
This was the fourth time they had conceded in a game inside the first two minutes, and the ninth time they had been 1-0 down inside 20 minutes. What does Xavi say to them before the go out on to the pitch?
The goal stemmed from a mix-up down the right.
Jules Kounde wanted to overlap, Lamine Yamal wanted him to stay behind him so he could to give the ball back and Barcelona could rebuild from deeper.
As they both moved in different directions Nico Williams nipped in and burst forward before feeding Gorka Guruzeta in the penalty area.
He played it back out to Yuri Berchiche whose cross was flicked on by Oihan Sancet to Malcom Adu.
He dived on to the loose ball heading it back into the danger area. Sancet fired it goalwards and although Andreas Christensen blocked his clearance went straight to Guruzeta who scooped it in from 10 yards out.
Things could have got worse for Barcelona in the fourth minute when Adu crossed and Guruzeta fired his chance to make it 2-0 over the top.
They did get worse moments later when Alejandro Balde went down with a hamstring injury and had to be helped off in tears. Hector Font, the 17-year-old came on.
Robert Lewandowski fired the Catalans level after a disastrous start saw them concede early
Barcelona’s teenage sensation Lamine Yamal was on the scoresheet to put Barcelona ahead
Barcelona president Joan Laporta (middle) was in the stands at San Mames to watch the tie
Barcelona were sinking but they bobbed back up to the surface on 26 minutes when Ferran Torres cut in from the left and played in Pedri.
As Athletic tried to scramble the ball away Yuri’s clearance hit Robert Lewandowski and went past Julen Agirrezabala for 1-1.
After the luck came the genius. Yamal is not 17 until next July but he cut in from the right, carried the ball with menace across the face of the Athletic area and unleashed an unstoppable shot with his left foot into the far corner.
Barcelona were in front and it was as if the ghost of Athletic v Barça games past had just come back to haunt San Mames – Messi scored this type of goal so many times against them.
Barça were now looking as brilliant going forward as they looked ramshackle at the back but half time broke Xavi’s team’s rhythm and they started the second period almost as badly as the first.
Four minutes in Athletic were level with Sancet unmarked to head in Nico Williams’ brilliant cross.
It was a dream start for Athletic Bilbao, going ahead after 36 seconds through Gorka Guruzeta
Oihan Sancet then ensured the game went to extra-time with his header making it 2-2
The mood changed thereafter and the hosts soon assumed control against a struggling Barca
On the hour Athletic’s other Williams was on.
The effect was not instant. With Athletic now pressing there was space on the break and Yamal was away with only the goalkeeper to beat. Messi would have scored. He’s not quite the second coming and he put the shot wide.
And if anyone doubted that, he did it again with five minutes left robbing Aitor Paredes but blazing high and wide with the goal gaping – just 16-years-old and 195 days remember.
By now Joao Felix was on for Lewandowski. It was the third consecutive game in which the Polish forward had been taken off. The change could not force a Barça winner and the game went into extra time.
Athletic looked stronger in the first half of the added 30 minutes. Yamal was booked for pulling back the shirt of Nico because it was the only way to stop him sprinting clear. And no one could stop Iñaki when he got the dramatic winner.