Haraguchi ends Hertha wait


Genki Haraguchi scored a superb match-winner as Hertha Berlin beat second-division Heidenheim 3-2 to reach the German Cup semifinals for the first time in 35 years on Wednesday.

With Hertha leading 2-1, Haraguchi cut in from the left and bamboozled three defenders inside the box with quick touches off his right foot before rolling past Heidenheim goalkeeper Kevin Muller to make it 3-1 in the 58th minute.

The 24-year-old also had a hand in both of Vedad Ibisevic’s goals, which overturned the deficit in the first half after Arne Feick’s opener.

Marc Schnatterer scored for Heidenheim from the penalty spot with eight minutes to go but Hertha held on to reach the last four.

“I managed to show what I am best at,” said Haraguchi after his first goal since September. “It’s important to always get involved. I got some belief (from the performance).”

Hertha, which sits third in the Bundesliga, will host Shinji Kagawa’s Borussia Dortmund in the semis in April, while the final in May is also scheduled to be played at its Olympiastadion home ground.

“We’ve got confidence as a team in what we are doing, but I personally want go up to higher levels. There’s still some way to go,” said Haraguchi.

Barcelona breaks record

Madrid AP

Barcelona broke the club record with its 29th consecutive unbeaten game when its second-stringers salvaged a 1-1 draw against Valencia in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Wednesday.

Barcelona reached its third straight Copa final 8-1 on aggregate after it won the first leg 7-0 at the Nou Camp last week.

Striker Alvaro Negredo gave Valencia the lead in a breakaway before halftime, but Cameroon-born youngster Wilfrid Kaptoum, a member of Barcelona’s B team, equalized in the 84th, two minutes into his senior debut.

Barcelona eclipsed the record it shared with Pep Guardiola’s 2011 squad, despite playing without nearly all of its regular starters at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar. Coach Luis Enrique used youngsters, with Ivan Rakitic the only experienced starter.

“Honestly, the record wasn’t our main goal,” Rakitic said. “We are happy, but the most important thing is to win titles at the end of the season. We would all exchange the record for titles.”

The draw should increase pressure on Valencia coach Gary Neville, the former England defender who has been struggling in his first head-coaching job. He also used second-stringers in his squad, resting some of the starters for the Spanish League game against Espanyol on Saturday.

Barcelona will likely play the final against Sevilla, which holds a four-goal lead over Celta going into Thursday’s second leg in Vigo. It will be Barcelona’s sixth Copa del Rey final in the last eight seasons.

“We are thrilled to make it to another final,” Enrique said. “Our fans are getting spoiled, just look at the number of Copa finals that we’ve played in the last few years. It tells a lot about this club’s capacity to reinvent itself, it tells a lot about the type of players that we have.”