Messi's penalty struggles continue as Barca unbeaten run ends

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The Argentina international has struggled with penalties this season, and his latest miss contributed to the Catalan side's first defeat since August

Lionel Messi missed yet another penalty kick and Barcelona lost for the first time in 29 matches, falling to Espanyol 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Oscar Melendo's late goal sealed victory for Espanyol and handed Barca their first defeat since August, after Messi watched his second-half spot kick get saved by Diego Lopez at RCDE Stadium.

The Argentine superstar has now scored on only half of his six penalty-kick attempts this season, missing more spot kicks than every other La Liga player during the 2017-18 campaign.

Barca dominated throughout the match but Melendo found the net in the 88th minute, as the visitors suffered their first defeat since their Supercopa de Espana losses to Real Madrid.

Melendo, 20, came on as a second-half substitute and picked the right time to score his first senior goal for the other Barcelona-based club.

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The midfielder's neat finish made way for Espanyol to celebrate their first derby victory over Barca in all competitions since February 2009, when they beat their city rivals 2-1 at Camp Nou in La Liga.

Barcelona and Espanyol will meet again for the second leg on January 25.

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