GARETH BALE fluffed a glorious late chance of a Real winner after Barcelona fought back well for a Copa del Rey semi-final first leg draw – despite being without Lionel Messi.
Ernesto Valverde declined to risk main man Messi following his weekend thigh injury – but the Argentina legend was badly missed when Real clearly edged the first half.
Lucas Vazquez bagged Real’s soft, sixth-minute opener in a first 45 minutes that sparked without ever quite exploding into life.
Vinicius Junior crossed for Karim Benzema to control and feed Spain winger Vazquez, who drilled home from the middle of the box.
Ivan Rakitic deflected Barcelona team-mate Malcom’s centre onto the bar.
But Valverde’s men spluttered before the interval.
Yet Malcom poached a 57th minute leveller that transformed the tie.
Real skipper Sergio Ramos cleared a Luis Suaez shot off the line but Malcom nipped onto the rebound to fire home beautifully.
Bale, though, wasted a gaping opportunity on 84 minutes when Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen dashed out but was beaten to the ball by Benzema.
The Frenchman quickly fed the Wales star on the left but Bale cut inside ponderously and saw his shot blocked by covering defenders.
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