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PHOTOS: Barcelona demolish Sevilla; Nantes pay tribute to Sala

January 31, 2019 10:32 IST

IMAGE: Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring Barcelona's third goal. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho struck twice as Barcelona mounted a comeback to thrash Sevilla 6-1 and sweep into the Copa del Rey semi-finals 6-3 on aggregate on Wednesday.

 

After a 2-0 defeat in Seville last week in which they rested key players, the Catalans broke the deadlock in the 13th minute when Coutinho slotted home from the penalty spot following Quincy Promes's foul on Lionel Messi.

Messi handed Coutinho the ball and the Brazilian playmaker converted the spot kick, ending a run of poor form.

"Leo encouraged me to take the penalty and that helped me gain confidence," said Coutinho. "The gesture shows what a great person he is."

Sevilla nearly equalised but Jasper Cillessen produced a brilliant save from Andre Silva's backheel, before the Dutch goalkeeper palmed away Ever Banega's penalty.

Gerard Pique fouled Roque Mesa and after a long delay while the incident was checked by VAR, Argentina midfielder Banega fired to the goalkeeper's left, but Cillessen flew across to keep the ball out.

IMAGE: Lionel Messi scores the sixth goal for Barcelona. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona pulled the game level on aggregate in the 32nd minute when Ivan Rakitic nudged the ball past Juan Soriano with the faintest of touches after a sensational pass from Arthur.

Two goals in a two-minute spell after the break helped Barcelona race ahead, with Coutinho heading in from Luis Suarez's cross and Sergi Roberto tucking home a ball from Messi.

Guilherme Arana pulled a goal back for Sevilla with a powerful drive after the otherwise impressive Cillessen gave the ball away, but Pablo Machin's side were finally sunk when Suarez struck on the break and Messi added a late sixth.

"Coutinho spoke with Messi and took the penalty, I'm happy for his goals," said Sergi Roberto.

"We want him to be happy and that's it. He's a very important player for us."

Earlier Real Betis, whose Benito Villamarin stadium will host the final in May, beat Espanyol 3-1 at home after extra-time to progress 4-1 on aggregate.

Leo Baptistao headed Espanyol in front after 33 minutes but Giovani Lo Celso equalised in the 76th minute before Marc Roca was dismissed for the visitors.

Betis capitalised on their numerical advantage in extra-time, with Sergio Leon and Aissa Mandi's strikes earning them a semi-final spot.

Nantes pay emotional tribute to Sala

IMAGE: FC Nantes players and manager Vahid Halilhodzic, right, with tributes to Emiliano Sala after the match. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Emotions ran high as Nantes paid tribute to their former player Emiliano Sala on Wednesday in their first game since the Argentine went missing in a light aircraft over the English Channel.

Referee Frank Schneider stopped play in the Ligue 1 match against St Etienne at La Beaujoire in the ninth minute -- in a possible reference to Sala's shirt number -- for a minute of applause during which Nantes coach Vahid Halilhodzic was in tears.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw after Nantes' Majeed Waris cancelled out Remy Cabella's second-half opener for St Etienne.

St Etienne are fourth in the table on 37 points from 22 games, while Nantes lie 14th on 24 points.

Fans unveiled banners for Sala, most notably a giant Argentinian flag, and all of Nantes' players had Sala's name on the back of their shirt.

A portrait of Sala was unfolded in the centre circle as the players stepped onto the pitch with fans chanting their former striker's name.

The Nantes players wore t-shirts saying 'On t'aime Emi' (We love you Emi), which they showed to the crowd after Waris scored in the 70th minute, and the St Etienne players had t-shirts saying 'Pray for Sala'.

IMAGE: A banner is displayed for Emiliano Sala at La Beaujoire. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Several former Nantes players were in the stands, including Caen striker Yacine Bammou, who was pictured in tears.

A few fans from Cardiff City, for whom Sala had just signed when he went missing, were at the stadium unveiling a banner that said: 'We never saw you play and never saw you score, but Emiliano our beautiful Bluebird we will love you forever more.'

Sala scored 48 goals from 133 appearances for Nantes.

Earlier on Wednesday, investigators searching for the lost plane carrying Sala said an underwater search would begin after they found two seat cushions on the French coast that likely belonged to the aircraft.

The 28-year-old had been en route from Nantes with pilot David Ibbotson to make his debut for Cardiff City when the plane disappeared over the English Channel on January 21.

Sublime Chiesa helps Fiorentina thrash Roma 7-1 in Coppa Italia

Federico Chiesa

IMAGE: Federico Chiesa celebrates scoring a goal for Fiorentina. Photograph: Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Federico Chiesa scored a hat-trick as Fiorentina humiliated AS Roma 7-1 to reach the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Wednesday.

Chiesa, the 21-year-old Italy forward, sliced Roma open at will, hitting the post early on and striking twice in the first 18 minutes.

Aleksandar Kolarov pulled one back for the visitors but Luis Muriel restored Fiorentina's two-goal lead before the break.

Eusebio Di Francesco's Roma completely collapsed in the second half with Chiesa completing his hat-trick, Giovanni Simeone scoring twice and Marco Benassi also finding the net.

Substitute Edin Dzeko was sent off for the visitors after arguing with the referee to complete a woeful night for the visitors.

Stefano Pioli's Viola will face holders Juventus or Atalanta, who play later on Wednesday, in a two-legged semi-final.

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