Neymar’s lone goal helps Barcelona beat Real Sociedad

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Neymar’s penalty earned Barcelona a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Thursday, ending a 10-year spell without a win there for the Catalans.

Barcelona broke the deadlock in the 21st minute after Neymar was tripped in the area by Aritz Elustondo. The Brazilian converted from the spot, sending Geronimo Rulli the wrong way.

Ivan Rakitic came close to adding a second for Barcelona but his strike flew narrowly wide, while Asier Illarramendi’s effort was deflected behind as the hosts tried to hit back.

The second half was a tense affair with few clear cut chances, although Illarramendi nearly scored late on, while a Lionel Messi free-kick whistled over.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said his team deserved to win at Anoeta. “The tie is open. This was a fair victory, now the opponent is obliged to score a goal. We have to win and forget the lead that we have.

“The result is a joy. We hope not to have as much trouble at Camp Nou, but it will be a good game. It will be tricky.”

Andres Iniesta was substituted at half time with a suspected calf strain with tests due to be performed on the Barcelona captain on Friday.

Meanwhile Messi was booked for time wasting during the game and was upset with the refereeing, although Real Sociedad players were clamouring for him to be sent off when he blocked a free kick from close range.

Luis Enrique felt Messi’s complaints were fair. He added: “I saw nothing unusual. It seems strange to me that he was booked because he was fine. I like the attitude of the players a lot. All players protest.”

Barcelona will now be confident of reaching the semi finals, with the second leg at Camp Nou on Thursday January 26.

Earlier in the day Atletico Madrid dispatched Eibar 3-0 in the first leg of their quarter final clash at the Vicente Calderon.

Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro got the goals as Diego Simeone’s men strolled to victory.

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 28th minute after a goalkeeping error by Eibar stopper Yoel.

Koke launched a free kick forward from near the half-way line which Yoel rushed out to deal with but did not reach. Jose Gimenez got there first and headed the ball on for Griezmann to nod into the empty net.

In the 60th minute Angel Correa bundled home from close range after Yannick Carrasco’s mazy run ended with the Belgian’s two attempts at goal both being blocked.

Gameiro added a third with a close range header after first Gimenez and then Griezmann headed Koke’s corner across to him.

Simeone said: “It wasn’t as easy as the score might suggest. [The tie is not over] because we know the cup can always throw up complicated situations.”

The second leg takes place at Ipurua on Wednesday January 25.

DPA