Barcelona took part in one of the craziest matches in recent memory when they went to San Mamés for the first leg of the Copa del Rey Round of 16 against Athletic Bilbao. The hosts went up 2-0, then had two players sent off, punched Barça players and committed clear penalties that weren't called by a terrible referee, and eventually pulled off a crazy win. The second leg is next week, at Camp Nou.
Barcelona was bad. Passing was bad, shooting was bad, defending was bad, and Bilbao got two goals in a three-minute interval. Barça deserved the result.
And then, out of nowhere, Aritz Aduriz punched Samuel Umtiti's throat, nobody saw it, and the Bilbao striker didn't get punished. To make things worse, the referee somehow didn't see a clear penalty on Neymar.
At halftime, a terrible performance, but the referees managed to be worse.
Tale of two halves.
The Blaugrana played a very good final period, dominating position and pressing Athletic to create scoring chances. The Bilbao players continued to foul the visitors without any control, and they finally paid for it. Raúl García and Ander Iturraspe were sent off with two yellow cards each, and Barça had a chance for a comeback.
Lionel Messi scored the first with a wonderful free kick before the two ejections, and Barça amped up the pressure in the final 10 minutes to try and find at least an equalizer. They couldn't, and they'll need a victory at home next week to keep their title defense alive.
Athletic: Iraizoz; Bóveda, Etxeita, Laporte, Balenziaga; San José, Iturraspe; García, Williams (Elustondo), Saborit (Muniain); Aduriz (Eraso)
Goals: Aduriz (25'), Williams (28')
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti (Paco Alcácer), Alba; Busquets, Rakitic (Gomes), Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar
Goal: Messi (52')