FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad played to a 1-1 tie here Wednesday in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal, but the Catalan club prevailed 3-1 on aggregate to advance to the final.
While Tata Martino's Barça side, 2-0 winners in the first leg, played their usual possession game, Real focused on careful defending with an eye out for the opportunity to counterattack.
The home crowd at the Anoeta was desperate for a miracle comeback and exhorted their heroes to press for a goal: a risky strategy against the likes of Barcelona.
Capitalizing on a mistake by Real's Jose Angel, Argentine international Lionel Messi snatched the ball in the 26th minute and eluded five of Angel's teammates before putting the ball past goalkeeper Eñaut Zubikarai.
Though their dreams of reaching the final were dimmed, Real refused to throw in the towel and the home team came close to equalizing in the waning moments of the first half.
Zubikarai kept his side alive with several key saves in the second period, stopping both Messi and Daniel Alves.
The visitors grew lackadaisical in the final 20 minutes of regulation, opening the door to a late Real goal by Antoine Griezmann.
The April 19 final will be the seventh pitting Barça against archrival Real Madrid, who crushed 2013 Copa champion Atletico Madrid 5-0 on aggregate in the other semifinal. EFE