Barcelona players celebrate at the end of the Spanish Copa del Rey semi final, first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1-0 in first leg of Copa Del Rey semi final

Real Madrid failed to capitalize on a weakened Barcelona side after losing 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey Thursday at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid was the better team with 65% possession but a disappointing own goal gifted Barcelona the first leg.

Barcelona wasn’t at its best, playing without injured Pedri, Ousmane Dembele and Robert Lewandowski. Even so, the Calatans remained resilient and produced a positive outcome, despite Madrid being the favorites.

First Half

Real Madrid began the game in style, dominating possession through 18 minutes. Luka Modric had the first chance of the match in the first minute with an offside side netter. Vinicius Jr. then whipped a pinpoint cross to meet Karim Benzema in the box to score in the 12th minute, which was disallowed immediately for offsides.

Los Blancos were calm and in control, playing liquid football against a Barcelona side that was struggling to maintain possession.

This took a sharp left turn when a poor pass from Camavinga led to Franck Kessie getting a shot off in the 25th minute, leading to an own goal from Eder Militao after Thibaut Courtois’ save.

Second Half

The start of the second proved to be underwhelming. Madrid came out hungry for an early equalizer but ultimately failed to penetrate La Blaugrana’s brick wall.

Vini Jr. had the best shot of the half in the 58th-minute from outside the box, which saw Ter Stegen show why he has 25 clean sheets this season. Kessie countered in the 72nd minute with a shot that was denied by second half substitute Ansu Fati.

Next Meetings

Barcelona will look forward to hosting Real Madrid in La Liga on March 19, where they look to extend its seven-point lead.

Los Blancos have everything to play for in the decisive return leg at the Camp Nou on April 5.

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