Gone are the days of Barcelona fans mocking Ousmane Dembélé.
Cheers could only be heard from the crowd at the Camp Nou on Wednesday after the France forward sent the hosts into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey.
Dembélé scored the winner early in the second half as Barcelona beat 10-man Real Sociedad 1-0 to return to the last four after a year’s absence.
The result ended a nine-game winning streak for Sociedad, who played a man down from the 40th minute after Brace-Mendes was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets.
It was Sociedad’s 27th consecutive away defeat against Barcelona. He went 31 matches without a win at the Catalan club in 1991.
The Basque Country side arrive as one of the hottest teams in Spain with 21 wins from 28 matches in all competitions this season, with 13 of those wins coming in away games. They have lost just four times overall and are third in the Spanish league, six points behind leaders Barcelona.
Barcelona controlled most of the match though, and opened the scoring with Dembele’s angled shot from inside the area following a pass into space by defender Jules Kovinde.
Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo said what a great game from Usmani. “We’re aware of his quality. He’s helping us a lot, and now with the goals as well. He’s making the difference, making all the right decisions, which before maybe that was something he had to deal with. were struggling.
Barcelona fans became angry with Dembélé when he refused to accept the club’s decision to loan him out to another club last summer. He has been playing well and has been key for the team recently, though, and again created a number of chances on Wednesday before scoring his third goal in six games.
When Dembélé was replaced by Ansu Fati in the 84th, some fans stood to give him a standing ovation.
“He has matured a lot,” Barcelona coach Xavi said of the 25-year-old Dembele. “We just gave him the confidence, we believe in him.”
Sociedad had a few good chances near the end but couldn’t capitalize on them, with Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen making a big save.
“We fought well despite going 11 against 11 and a man down,” said Sociedad defender Aritz Elustondo. “We’re proud of how we played despite being out.”
Barcelona were eliminated in the round of 16 last season and will win the Copa in 2021 for the last title before Lionel Messi’s departure. The Catalan club have won four matches in a row, including the Spanish Super Cup final against Real Madrid in Saudi Arabia.
Xavi recalled Robert Lewandowski after the Polish striker missed the Spanish league tie against Getafe due to suspension.
Sociedad were without veteran playmaker David Silva due to a muscle injury.
Barcelona eliminated third division club Ceuta in the round of 16, while Sociedad edged past Mallorca.
Sevilla was sacked.
Osasuna beat visiting Sevilla 2-1 in extra time to reach the Copa semi-finals for the first time since 2002-03.
Abde Ezalzouli scored the winner on the break in the 99th minute as Sevilla forced extra time through a stoppage time goal by Youssef N Nesri.
The hosts opened the scoring through Chami Avila in the 71st.
Sevilla, one point above the relegation zone in the Spanish league, last reached the semi-finals in 2020-21.
On Thursday, Real Madrid host city rivals Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao visit Valencia.