MX23RW : Wednesday, January 16 06:45:07
Jan 17, 2018 at 8pm UK at ​Estadi Cornellà-El Prat
Attendance: 23,323
Melendo (88')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Live Commentary: Espanyol 1-0 Barcelona - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live commentary of the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final between Espanyol and Barcelona, which finished 1-0.
Live Commentary: Espanyol 1-0 Barcelona - as it happened
© Offside

Oscar Melendo came off the bench to net an 88th-minute winner as Espanyol recorded a 1-0 victory over Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday night.

Lionel Messi missed a second-half penalty before Melendo came up with a spectacular moment late on to ensure that Espanyol would take a lead into the second leg at Camp Nou next week.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.

7.01pmEvening all! Sports Mole's live Copa del Rey coverage continues from Catalonia as Espanyol welcome Barcelona for the first leg of their quarter-final. Espanyol have a rotten recent record against their Catalan rivals, and Barcelona will be looking to secure a first-leg advantage tonight. Stay tuned for live minute-by-minute updates of the action from the RCDE Stadium.

7.04pmLionel Messi scored a hat-trick in Barcelona's 5-0 home win over Espanyol in La Liga earlier this season. It was their sixth straight victory over Espanyol, and they also recorded a 3-0 win when they travelled to this stadium in the league last season. It is the first time that these two teams have clashed in the Copa del Rey since the 2015-16 season, when Barcelona won 6-1 on aggregate.

7.07pmIncredibly, Espanyol have not beaten Barcelona in any competition since a 2-1 victory at Camp Nou in the league back in February 2009. The omens are not exactly great for Espanyol, but they will be desperate to keep the tie alive ahead of the second leg of the quarter-final at Camp Nou next week.

7.10pmRight, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news. Both teams were in league action at the weekend – Espanyol drawing 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao while Barcelona won 4-2 at Real Sociedad. Any changes? Let's run through the two XIs for this match...



ESP: Diego Lopez; Navarro, Duarte, Naldo, Aaron; Granero, Fuego, Sanchez, David Lopez, Darder; Moreno

BARCA: Cillessen; Roberto, Pique, Vermaelen, Digne; Busquets, Alena, Paulinho; D.Suarez, Messi, Vidal

7.19pmEspanyol's team shows five changes from the one that started against Athletic Bilbao in the league at the weekend. Diego Lopez replaces Pau Lopez between the sticks, while Marc Navarro, Naldo, David Lopez and Javi Fuego come in for Mario Hermoso, Javi Lopez, Jose Jurado and Leo Baptistao. Unsurprisingly it is a very defensive team, with Gerard Moreno up top by himself tonight.

7.22pmAs for Barcelona, head coach Ernesto Valverde has made five changes to the team that started against Sociedad. Jasper Cillessen comes in for Marc-Andre ter Stegen between the sticks, while Lucas Digne, Carles Alena, Denis Suarez and Aleix Vidal also start for the visitors.


7.28pmSo there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 30 minutes from kickoff in Catalonia. I shall speak about the home side a little bit later, but let's start with Barcelona, who continue to march on. Indeed, Sunday's 4-2 win at Real Sociedad moved Ernesto Valverde's side nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

7.32pmBarcelona were actually 2-0 down to Sociedad, but turned things around in impressive fashion - scoring four times without reply - to triumph. They are still unbeaten in the league this season, and have an incredible 19-point advantage over the reigning champions Real Madrid. It does appear that the title is heading back to Camp Nou at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

7.35pmAs well as the league, Barcelona will also have their eye on the Champions League, which resumes next month. The Catalan outfit have the small matter of a two-legged round of 16 tie against Chelsea, and after watching Real Madrid dominate European football in recent seasons, Barcelona will be looking to make a serious play for the Champions League this term.


7.42pmTonight is all about the Copa del Rey, however, as Barcelona look to defend the trophy that they have won on 29 occasions. They overcame Real Murcia in the early rounds before thumping Celta Vigo 6-1 on aggregate in the round of 16. The pair played out a 1-1 draw in Vigo before Barcelona recorded a 5-0 home win last week. They are again the favourites to lift the Copa del Rey this term.

7.45pmAs for Espanyol, Quique Sanchez Flores's team have beaten Tenerife and Levante to book their spot in the quarter-finals. They lost 2-1 at home to Levante in the first leg of their round of 16 clash, but a 2-0 away victory last week saw the Catalan outfit book their spot in the final eight.

7.48pmThe Copa del Rey is a competition that Espanyol have won on four occasions, with their last success occurring in 2006, when they beat Zaragoza. They have also made the final on five occasions, but have been handed a really rotten draw at this stage of the tournament. It is going to take some effort to overcome this Barcelona team in the next two matches.


7.55pmEspanyol will enter this match off the back of a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. They have only lost one of their last five in the league, but an inconsistent campaign has left them down in 14th position in the table. Right, kickoff tonight is now just around the corner!

0 minKICKOFF! Barcelona will kick things off here...

2 min... Messi has the chance to threaten from a free kick just outside the Espanyol box, but the Argentine sends his effort over the crossbar. It has been a bright start from the away side here.

4 minEspanyol are struggling to get hold of the ball in the early moments as Barcelona continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field. Not a full house inside the stadium tonight, but there is a good atmosphere, and the home supporters are getting behind their team in the early moments.

6 minMoreno is extremely isolated in the final third for Espanyol, who have set up in a very defensive shape. Barcelona are having all of the ball with six minutes on the clock at the RCDE Stadium.

8 minSAVE! Lopez has to get down to keep out a low strike from Busquets!

10 minEspanyol are really struggling to lay a glove on their opponents at the moment as Barcelona continue to move the ball in the final third. Messi is playing central for the visitors, but Alena has pushed into that position in the last couple of minutes. Movement all over the place here!

11 minMessi is very fortunate to escape a card for pulling the arm of Darder. Lucky!

13 minJust a reminder that the second leg of this quarter-final will take place at Camp Nou next week. Espanyol have to keep Barcelona honest ahead of that match. The hosts need a result tonight.

15 minDenis Suarez cuts inside before looking to find Alena with a low pass, but Naldo comes across to make the block. Alena is almost playing as a centre-forward for the away side at the moment.

17 minEspanyol are defending with 10 players, which is making it difficult to hurt Barcelona on the counter-attack. The visitors are still having lots of the ball, but not many chances to report here.

19 minBarcelona have a free kick just outside the Espanyol box as Sanchez fells Paulinho...

20 min... this time Messi's free kick is straight into the wall.

22 minBarcelona continue to win free kicks in dangerous areas, but Messi has been unable to take advantage thus far. We must be getting to the stage where a card has to be produced; the referee has allowed quite a number of challenges to go unpunished in the first 22 minutes of this match.

24 minSAVE! Diego Lopez is on hand to keep out a powerful Messi strike!

26 minThe pressure is building on the Espanyol goal as Barcelona continue to force the issue. Pique looks to have a clear header inside the penalty box, but the whistle had been flown for offside. Pique was actually caught by Diego Lopez's fist, and he needs some treatment here.

28 minNot an awful lot to report in terms of chances at the moment, but Barcelona are still dominating the ball. Messi dances past a host of challenges before having a strike, but his effort is blocked.

30 minLittle over 15 minutes of the first period remaining, and we are locked at 0-0. It has been the Messi show thus far, with the Argentine comfortably the best player on the pitch. Well, that is obvious. But I mean in terms of this match in isolation. He has been everywhere for Barcelona.

31 minHalf-chance for Espanyol, but Moreno's strike was always wide of the post.

31 minPaulinho swings one wide for Barcelona after good work from Messi once again.

33 minDigne goes down inside the Espanyol box, but the referee is not interested. Messi continues to run the show here as he drops deep, allowing Alena to push into a forward role for the visitors.

35 minLittle over 10 minutes of the first period to play, and we are still goalless here.

37 minMoreno has the chance to run away from Vermaelen, but the Espanyol striker is adjudged to have felled the centre-back, which brings a furious reaction from the home supporters. Still nothing to separate the two teams with 37 minutes on the clock. Espanyol will be quite content at the moment.

40 minNot too much happening at the moment as we approach the interval. It has been a very low-key match with Messi providing the only moments of excellence. Pretty quiet first half of action.

42 minEspanyol's three-man central defence is doing a good job at the moment. Alena looks to meet a through pass from Messi, but Naldo is on hand with a strong challenge. Still goalless here.

44 minBOOKING! Aaron (Espanyol) is booked for chopping Messi to the deck.

45 minCHANCE! Easily the best chance of the first period as Alena feeds D.Suarez, but the Spaniard slides his effort wide of the post! Should have done better from that area!

45+1 minHALF-TIME: Espanyol 0-0 Barcelona

8.46pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 0-0. Barcelona have had the best of it, but it has been a low-key first 45 minutes of football here. Alena was actually booked just before the interval for a late challenge on Sanchez!

8.51pmSTATISTICS! Barcelona dominated the possession with 70%, while the visitors had eight attempts in the first period - two of which were on target. Espanyol, meanwhile, managed just one attempt off target. Two bookings to report - Aaron for the home side and Alena for Barcelona late in the half.

8.56pmBENCH WATCH! Rafinha is on the Barcelona bench tonight after recovering from a serious knee problem, while Gomes, Rakitic and Luis Suarez are also available for Valverde tonight. Espanyol, meanwhile, have second-half options in the shape of Leo Baptistao, Pablo Piatti and Vila.

46 minRESTART! Espanyol resume the action here...

47 min... ESPANYOL SUB! Baptistao has replaced Darder at the break.

48 minNo changes from Barcelona at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that Valverde will have alterations in mind as the second period gathers pace in Catalonia.

50 minSuper defending from Naldo as the Espanyol centre-back beats Vermaelen to a Messi free kick inside the home side's box. It is excellent defending from Nacho to deny the Belgian.

52 minMessi has his dancing shoes on tonight, and only a last-ditch challenge from Naldo prevents the Argentine from pulling the trigger. Espanyol break down the other end with Baptistao, but the Brazilian cannot find a cross into Moreno. Much better game with 52 minutes on the clock.

53 minBarcelona want Aaron to be sent off here as Roberto is brought to the ground by the defender, who has already been booked, but the referee is not interested. Aaron is very fortunate!

54 minBARCELONA SUB! Paulinho, who is injured, is replaced by Rakitic.

55 minSAVE! Another smart save from Diego Lopez to keep out a strike from Messi. It was straight at the Espanyol goalkeeper, but he held onto the ball extremely well.

56 minBOOKING! Alba (Barcelona) has been booked for dissent. The left-back is on the bench, but the referee came across to book the Spain international. Scenes!

58 minESPANYOL SUB! Aaron is replaced by Vila.

60 minBARCELONA SUB! Luis Suarez replaces Alena for the away side.


62 minBarcelona have a penalty as Roberto is brought to the ground by Granero inside the box!

62 minSAVE! Oh my word! Wonderful save from Diego Lopez to deny Messi!

64 minThere is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment, with that penalty save raising the home supporters. Still more than 25 minutes of his first leg to play in Catalonia.

66 minFuego makes contact on a corner from the right, but his header was never threatening to trouble Cillessen, who is on hand to collect. What a brilliant noise inside the stadium at the moment.

68 minJust a reminder that the second leg of this quarter-final will take place at Camp Nou next week. Espanyol are not used to picking up positive results against Barcelona, but they have a chance to take something into the next leg. Still more than 20 minutes of football remaining here.

71 minAll Barcelona in terms of possession at the moment as they pass and probe in the final third of the field. You just get the feeling that there is a goal in this match. It has been a good second period.

73 minBoth managers still have one permitted change left, and it will be very interesting to see who comes off the bench int he final 15 minutes or so. Plenty of talent still in reserve tonight.

75 minESPANYOL SUB! Melendo replaces Fuego for the home side.

77 minGood defending from Pique as the Barcelona centre-back clears ahead of Baptistao, who had threatened to meet a cross from Navarro. The Espanyol fans are full of voice at the moment.

77 minBaptistao misses the crossbar with an effort from outside the box.

78 minIt appears something might have been thrown from the crowd onto the head of Cillessen here. Bad scenes. Cillessen is okay, but some action needs to be taken. That is out of order.

78 minBARCELONA SUB! Rafinha replaces D.Suarez for the away side.

80 minMessi is just caught offside after a smart pass from Vidal in a wide position.

82 minBOOKING! Rakitic (Barcelona) is booked for bringing Moreno to the ground just outside the Espanyol box. Rakitic is a touch fortunate not to receive a red card there!

83 minSAVE! Super save from Cillessen to keep out Navarro's free kick!

84 minBOOKING! Vermaelen (Barcelona) is booked for handball.

86 minYou just get the feeling that there is a goal in the final stages of this match.

86 minBOOKING! Sanchez (Espanyol) is booked for a foul on Rafinha.

88 minThe Espanyol supporters are in fine voice as we approach the final stages of this first leg. It would be a brilliant result for Espanyol if they could stay at 0-0 entering the second leg next week.

88 minGOAL! Espanyol 1-0 Barcelona (Melendo)

89 minOh my word! What a moment! It is the 20-year-old Melendo who sends Espanyol ahead! The number 14 meets a cross from Navarro before sending the ball into the far corner of the net!

90 min+1BOOKING! Lopez (Espanyol) is booked following a clash with Suarez.

90 min+2We are into the second of three additional minutes at the end of the match.

90 min+3Wonderful noise inside the stadium as the home supporters drive their team forward.

90 min+4FULL-TIME: Espanyol 1-0 Barcelona

9.51pmIncredible! The referee blows the final whistle with Espanyol recording a 1-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of this Copa del Rey quarter-final. What a result for the home side. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!

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Ernesto Valverde pictured in 2016
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