Barcelona and Madrid made to sweat by Ibiza and Unionistas
MADRID, JAN 23: La Liga's heavyweights were both given a scare by third tier opponents in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday as Barcelona needed two late goals to beat Ibiza and Real Madrid dug deep for victory over Unionistas de Salamanca.
Barca sit 44 places ahead of Ibiza and Madrid 56 above Unionistas but the lowly duo both came close to extraordinary upsets, only for Ibiza to lose 2-1 and Unionistas 3-1 in front of their jubilant home fans.
With Lionel Messi rested and not even on the bench, Antoine Griezmann proved the saviour for Barcelona, scoring twice in the second half, including a 94th-minute winner, after Pep Caballe had given the hosts a fairytale lead at Can Misses.
"Scoring gave them confidence," said Barca coach Quique Setien. "We were a bit sloppy, we gave the ball away and that gave them life. It wasn't easy."
Discomfort was more fleeting for Madrid, who conceded an equaliser in the second half following a brilliant run and finish from Unionistas' Alvaro Romero, only to restore their advantage five minutes later.
Juan Gongora turned the ball into his own net after Gareth Bale, back from injury and illness, scored his first goal for his club since September 1.
"He sprained his ankle a little," said coach Zinedine Zidane. "I don't think it's much but tomorrow we'll see."
At the end, Unionistas fans were waving their scarves with pride just as Ibiza's supporters had applauded their team off, even though Griezmann had dashed their hopes just moments before.
Only last week, Barcelona topped Deloitte's annual Football Money League with a total revenue of $959.3m for 2018/19 while Madrid were just behind, the world's second richest club with $864m.
Unionistas, meanwhile, only came into existence in 2013, launched by their own supporters after UD Salamanca went out of business.
It was a dream draw to get Real Madrid but they almost had to move grounds because their Las Pistas has one stand and lighting that needed upgrading. -AFP