The Blaugrana opened the scoring in the first half before conceding in the second, but managed to win their first penalty shoot-out since 1998 after extra-time kept them at 1-1.
De Jong turned from hero to villain, however, shortly after the second half got underway. He handled the ball in the box to concede a penalty that La Real’s captain and talisman Mikel Oyarzabal was never going to miss.
Neither team could find a winner as the 90 minutes reached its end and then throughout extra-time, although Marc-Andre ter Stegen was on hand to pull of a number of truly outstanding saves to keep Barcelona in the game.
Koeman, speaking post-game in comments carried by Marca, was happy with his team’s performance and the grit they showed to get the victory over the line. “It was a great game,” he said.
“We’ve both played with great intensity, and there was chances for each team. We’ve played against a great opponent, and a penalty shoot-out has helped us secure passage to the final.”
Koeman confirmed the story told by the young man who scored the winning penalty, Puig, that he volunteered to take the crucial spot-kick before the shoot-out. “I had four names on my piece of paper and I asked who wanted to take the fifth and he asked,” Koeman said. “And he did very well.”
The Dutchman was happy that some of his younger charges were able to gain experience of playing in a semi-final, battle and come through unscathed. “It’s true that for those who have not participated in a semi-final or in a game as intense as today, it’s important,” he said. “You gain experience playing these games, also with the penalty shoot-out.”
Will Lionel Messi, who missed the game through injury, be back in time for Sunday’s final? “Hopefully,” Koeman said. “I don’t know. We have to wait.”