Lionel Messi scored two goals to lead Barcelona in the Spanish league to a 3-2 victory at Athletic Bilbao, while Atlético Madrid on Wednesday was knocked out of the Copa del Rey by a third-tier side.
Iñaki William’s opener for Bilbao was canceled by teenager Pedro “Pedri” González before Messi added two goals to secure an away victory for Barcelona that lifted it into the third position.
Atlético leads the league but lost 1-0 in the Copa del Rey’s round of 32 at third-tier Cornellà, a result that ensures Diego Simeone’s side will concentrate even more on the title race of La Liga.
For the second year in a row, after a 2-1 loss to Cultural Leonesa, Atlético lost to the third-tier team in the cup competition.
“Our competitors played better,” said Atlético coach Diego Simeone.
“We had some decent offensive plays, but our rival (Cornellà) still played better overall. They took advantage and got their target of the set-piece. Following the sending off, it was even more uphill. We’ve got to find options now.”
In being caught off-guard, Atlético is not alone. On Tuesday, topflight teams Celta Vigo and Getafe were also eliminated by third-tier sides.
But Atlético was the biggest victim of the Copa del Rey format reform that took place two seasons ago. Every round was played over two legs before last season, giving larger clubs chances to come back home if they slipped away. Now, on the lower-seeded side, all rounds except the semifinals are played in one leg.