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Barcelona Finally Loses

Real Betis ended Barcelona’s team-record unbeaten streak at 28 games with a 3-1 victory Wednesday night in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals. Barcelona still progressed however to the Spanish King’s Cup semifinals on 6-3 aggregate.

Having won the first leg 5-0 at home last week, Barcelona started just three regulars: forward Lionel Messi, midfielder Xavi Hernandez and defender Gerard Pique.

Betis, the second-division leader, built a 2-0 lead on goals by Jorge Molina in the second and seventh minutes. It was the first time Barcelona had trailed in a match since Oct. 16, when it rallied for a 2-1 league victory over Valencia.

Messi, the two-time FIFA player of the year, closed the gap in the 38th minute with his 32nd goal of the season, but Arturo “Arzu” Garcia made it 3-1 in first-half injury time.

Messi had a chance to pull Barcelona within a goal again in the 54th minute but sent his penalty kick over the crossbar.

The last time Barcelona lost a game this season was 2-0 at home to Hercules in the league on Sept. 11.

In the semifinals, Barcelona plays Almeria, a team it beat 8-0 in the league this season. The other semifinal has defending champion Sevilla playing Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid, which trails 3-1 going into Thursday’s second leg.