Ronald Koeman admits Copa del Rey comeback is ‘happiest night’ of his Barcelona career

Ronald Koeman admits Copa del Rey comeback is ‘happiest night’ of his Barcelona career

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that seeing his side overturn a two-goal deficit against Sevilla and seal a spot in the Copa del Rey final is his greatest moment since returning to Camp Nou last summer.

Many had written Barcelona off after their 2-0 defeat in the first leg, although when Koeman’s men picked up a La Liga win by the same scoreline during their meeting on Saturday, optimism began to grew.

Barcelona had to work for it in the second leg and needed a 94th-minute goal from Gerard Pique to send the game to extra time, during which Martin Braithwaite popped up with the winning goal to spark some sensational celebrations from the players.

“It is my happiest night as Barcelona coach,” Koeman confessed (via Marca). “Being two goals down, we played a very complete game. You can’t ask for more as a coach.

“We deserved to go through and we deserve to play in the final. We were the best team across both legs.

“We have always believed. We never threw this cup away. It is a question of mentality. As a coach, I cannot ask my team for more than what I have seen tonight. We fought to the point of exhaustion and it is incredible. I am very satisfied with the team’s work tonight. We deserved the victory. I think we have been better in both games. We have been better.”

Jordi Alba, Martin BraithwaiteJordi Alba, Martin Braithwaite
Barcelona celebrated wildly after the game | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Both recent victories over Sevilla have seen Koeman deploy a variation of a 3-5-2 formation, with Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi both shining as central strikers.

“We went for the same system because we played a great game there on Saturday, so there was no need to make changes,” Koeman explained. “We tried to push like we did on Saturday and I think the team was phenomenal.

“This team is growing with the changes we have made, giving opportunities to very young players. We have improved during the season. The team plays well with the ball, we know that, but above all we have improved without it. We are stronger, we run more and push more. I think we can have a bright future together.

“Congratulations to the players because they deserve to play in this final because of how they played in this game. I am very proud of them, what they have done and the character they have shown.”

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