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Barcelona secured their first win at Real Sociedad since 2007 on Thursday, notching a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Neymar won and then scored a penalty in the 21st minute to put the Blaugrana ahead at the interval. The second half was an even affair, and despite flurries of pressure from the hosts, Barcelona were able to see the game out with relative comfort.

The second leg will be played at the Camp Nou next Thursday.

Given their undesirable record at the Estadio Anoeta, it would have been understandable if the Blaugrana had started the contest nervously. However, after an early penalty shout for Real Sociedad’s Willian Jose was waved away, Barca took full control.

Neymar was the man at the heart of most of the visitors’ positive play, roaming infield often untraced from the left flank. That elusiveness helped Barca take the lead.

The Brazilian burst into the box in the 20th minute and was felled by David Zurutuza.

After Lionel Messi advised him to, Neymar kept his cool from 12 yards to fire his side ahead:

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Neymar was proving difficult to contain early on.

As OptaJose noted, the Barca No. 11 has proved to be difficult to contain in the opposition area since joining the club:

Sociedad continued to press forward after falling behind, although they struggled to find fluidity in the attacking third. Meanwhile, as the half rolled on, Barcelona were looking increasingly dangerous when given a chance to counter-attack.

Before the break, neither side were able to carve out another clear-cut chance, although Messi picked up a caution after motioning to the referee for a Sociedad player to be booked.

Neymar should have done better with a clear opening at the start of the second half, as a lofted pass from Sergio Busquets fell perfectly into his stride. An uncharacteristically poor touch from the Barca man allowed Geronimo Rulli to win the ball back for his side, though.

Sociedad will feel aggrieved they didn’t make Barcelona pay. Zurutuza was flagged offside when found in space from a free-kick, although the replay showed he was onside.

Per football journalist Sergi Dominguez, the Blaugrana got away with one:

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Messi was booked before the break.

At the other end, Neymar was brought down in the box again, and a second penalty looked to be on the cards. However, the Brazilian was booked for diving, which looked to be a harsh decision on second viewing.

Real looked more of a threat in the final third in the second period, and their best chance came after Yuri Berchiche fizzed a superb cross into the area. Unfortunately for him, nobody in white and blue was able to find a finishing touch.

The match descended into a malaise in the latter stages, with Barca seeking to take the sting out of proceedings by keeping the ball. Before time was called on the contest, the closest they came to doubling their lead was when Messi fired over from a free-kick. Asier Illarramendi headed over Sociedad’s best opening in injury time.

Given the quality Barcelona have had in their squad over the last decade, it’s remarkable it has taken them so long to pick up a victory at the Anoeta. Longstanding members of the squad, in particular, will be delighted that the hoodoo has finally been broken.

The Blaugrana are now in a brilliant position to secure a spot in the semi-finals of the competition and will be confident of picking off Sociedad, who will be forced to attack in the second leg in a week’s time.


Afterward, both manager Luis Enrique and Busquets noted the tie was not over yet, per the club’s official Twitter feed:

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Sociedad limited Barca’s opportunities, although they couldn’t find a breakthrough themselves.

Luis Suarez shared his delight at the result on social media and also commented on a potential knock for midfielder Andres Iniesta, who was taken off at half-time:

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