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Jan 24, 2013

Messi lifts Barca past Malaga into semis

Lionel Messi scored on his 15th straight start to seal a thrilling 4-2 win for Barcelona at Malaga on Thursday, sending the defending champions through to a Copa del Rey semifinal against archrival Real Madrid.

Barcelona reached its sixth semifinal in seven years with a 6-4 victory on aggregate.

With the score level at 2-2, the game was heading for extra time when Andres Iniesta combined with Cesc Fabregas to score in the 76th minute. Messi then headed Barcelona's fourth and his 40th goal of the season just four minutes later.

This will be the third straight year that Barcelona and Madrid meet in the Copa.

Earlier, Atletico Madrid eliminated Real Betis 3-1 on aggregate to reach the other semifinal with Sevilla.

Looking to defend a 2-0 first-leg advantage, Atletico extended that with a goal on the stroke of halftime from Diego Costa.

Betis was never in the match and a last-minute penalty from Jorge Molina was little more than a consolation for the host.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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