Barcelona bagged an away goal in their Copa del Rey last-16 clash with Celta Vigo as the first leg at Balaidos ended in a 1-1 draw.
Celta Vigo 1 Barcelona 1
Arnaiz gives Barca early lead
Sisto equalises with rasping strike
Busquets denied by woodwork
Roberto misses late chance
Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde rested a whole host of first-team players for the first leg, but they took an early lead through Jose Arnaiz before Pione Sisto restored parity with a thunderbolt from a narrow angle.
Both teams had chances to claim victory in the second half, but the cup-tie finished all-square.
Record-signing Ousmane Dembele made a late cameo for Barca as a substitute, returning to action for the first time since September 16, when he ruptured his hamstring against Getafe just weeks after joining from Borussia Dortmund.
The hosts made a bright start as they looked to get on the front foot against an under-strength Barca team.
Iago Aspas had a sniff at goal in the eighth minute when he was sent clear by a ball over the top from Daniel Wass, but Nelson Semedo got back just in time to deny him a shot.
Maxi Gomez saw his strike deflected wide of the target two minutes later after he latched onto a clearance just outside the area, before Andre Gomes sent a looping header over the crossbar from Semedo’s clipped cross on the right in the 11th minute.
The Catalan giants broke the deadlock with their next attack three minutes later when Denis Suarez surged down the left flank on the break and he fed Gomes, who cut the ball back for Arnaiz to fire into the bottom-left corner of the goal from eight yards out.
But Celta were back in the contest just after the half-hour mark from a counter of their own as Aspas steered Gomez’s pass against the bar and Sisto lashed the rebound into the roof of the net from an acute angle on the left.
Wass tried his luck with a long-range effort that failed to trouble Jasper Cillessen in the 41st minute, while Paulinho’s low drive from 22 yards out also missed to the left of the goal moments later after he was let in by a misplaced pass from Celta.
The final action of the first half saw Gomes curl a shot well over the bar from 20 yards out after he was allowed to advance towards the box from the left unopposed.
Arnaiz threatened again 11 minutes into the second half as the striker threw himself at Lucas Digne’s cross from the left, but his diving header went wide of the right post.
Suarez should have restored the Blaugrana’s lead on 59 minutes when he got on the end of Semedo’s pass from the right, but he fired wide of the left post from close range, while Sergio Busquets was unlucky to strike the bar with a first-time shot from 25 yards out two minutes later.
Emre Mor caused problems for Barca on 69 minutes as he swapped passes with fellow substitute Brais Mendez and made his way into the area before scuffing a shot straight at Cillessen, who was fortunate to see the Turkey international flash an effort just wide of the right post four minutes later following crisp passing in the final third from Celta.
Barca’s record signing Ousmane Dembele was brought on as a substitute for Arnaiz in the 72nd minute, getting his first taste of action since rupturing his hamstring against Getafe on September 16.
Sergi Roberto almost snatched victory late on as he met Semedo’s low cross at the near post, but the sub could only hit the side-netting from close range.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 4, 2018