Jose Arnaiz’s Copa Del Rey Fairy Tale Continues With Vital Barca Away Goal
Get the best email in soccer.
Ousmane Dembele made his long-awaited return from injury in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match versus Celta Vigo, but the headlines were written by the man he replaced in the 72nd minute, 22-year-old winger Jose Arnaiz.
Arnaiz has featured prominently for Barca B in the Segunda Division following his $4 million move from Real Valladolid in August, but he’s seized his opportunities with the first team in the Copa del Rey. After scoring in both legs of Barca’s 8-0 aggregate demolition of Murcia in the Round of 32, the Talavera de la Reina native struck again against Celta Vigo, helping Barca to a draw and vital away goal at the Balaidos.
It was a typical winter night in Galicia with the rain lashing down and wind swirling about the historic stadium, but the two sides produced a highly entertaining match with Arnaiz opening the scoring in the 15th minute after some great work from Andre Gomes.
15 minutes later, Celta Vigo had a deserved equalizer after Pione Sisto rifled one into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
Denis Suarez should’ve put Barca ahead on the hour mark, but he wasted a wonderful ball from Nelson Semedo.
Minutes later, Sergio Busquets was inches away from Barca’s second, but his long-range effort thundered off the crossbar.
Vigo could’ve heaped the pressure on Barcelona ahead of the return leg, but Emre Mor’s effort in the 73rd minute whistled just wide of Jasper Cillessen’s far post.
In the end, Arnaiz’s away goal gives Barca a slight advantage as the two sides look forward to the return leg at the Camp Nou on January 11.