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Messi guides Barca into Copa final

LIONEL Messi struck late to help Barcelona seal a place in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday, a 1-1 draw at Real Mallorca completing a 3-1 aggregate victory for the Primera Liga leaders.

Barcelona will play Athletic Bilbao in the May 13 final in Valencia after the Basque club beat Sevilla 3-0 at home to overturn a 1-2 defeat from last month's first leg.

Barca has run into a miserable patch of form since it beat Mallorca 2-0 in the first leg at the Nou Camp and the latest result means it is without a win in five matches in all competitions.

It rode its luck on Wednesday in a match that saw both teams reduced to 10 men. Gonzalo Castro gave the islanders the lead with a powerful drive that flew into the top left corner at the end of the first half.

Barca goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto saved Jose Luis Marti's weak penalty early in the second half, awarded after defender Martin Caceres felled Castro and earned himself a straight red card.

Mallorca lost defender Josemi to a second yellow card in the 65th minute for bringing down Messi.

The Argentine made it 1-1 in the 81st minute when he pounced on a defensive error and lifted the ball over German Lux.

Fernando Llorente was the matchwinner for Athletic in Bilbao, scoring one and creating two to help his side reach its first final in 24 years.


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