Barcelona booked their place in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 as they beat Cultural Leonesa 4-1 (agg. 5-1) in the second leg at Camp Nou on Wednesday
The visitors started the game strongly, with Jasper Cillessen being called into action as well. But, it was Barcelona, who ended up grabbing the lead through Munir El Haddadi, who was teed up by Ivan Rakitic from the edge of the box.
Rakitic soon had his second assist, finding Denis Suarez, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net from a long range curling effort. And, just a couple of minutes before the interval, the Croat completed his hat-trick of assists as his inviting cross was headed into the net by Malcom.
The minnows did not stop showing the fight despite the cup tie being put to bed in the first half itself. And, their endeavour to make a mark saw them pulling a goal back in the 54th minute through Josep Sene, who only had to tap the ball into the back of the net after Jose Alonso capitalised on a weak save by Jasper Cillessen.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 5, 2018
The win though, was rounded off by Denis Suarez 14 minutes later, with the midfielder latching on to Riqui Puig’s delicate chipped pass before slotting the ball past Jorge Palatsi. Wednesday’s result meant Barcelona clinched the Round of 32 tie with an aggregate scoreline of 5-1. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Jasper Cillessen: 6/10
Did not have a great deal to do on the night, with Barcelona dominating the proceedings for the most part. When he did have to make a big save, Cillessen’s effort was arguably weak, with the rebound providing Cultural Leonesa to equalise.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
With Sergi Roberto injured, Semedo has had to play every single game for Barcelona lately. Surely enough, the accumulating minutes seem to be taking their toll, with the Portuguese defender being caught out of position on occasion, with his end product also lacking bite. Given an early night off, with Clement Lenglet replacing him.
📷 Top stuff from the #BarçaB lads against Cultural Leonesa last night.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 6, 2018
Another game for the La Masia graduate, Chumi struck a fine understanding with Thomas Vermaelen at the heart of the Barcelona defence, giving the visitors very little room. For the final half-an-hour, the youngster then showcased his versatility, playing as the right-back.
Thomas Vermaelen: 6.5/10
Back into the side after a long injury layoff, Vermaelen produced a no-nonsense performance and organised a young backline with elan. Did let his marker evade him for the goal that the minnows scored, but it was otherwise a solid enough performance. His availability will be key with Samuel Umtiti a long-term absentee.
Juan Miranda: 6/10
Being Jordi Alba’s only like-for-like backup has its perks. And, Juan Miranda received another start on Wednesday. But, while he showed a willingness to bombard forward at every opportunity, the young left-back did not have the deliver with his end product, something he needs to address.
Ivan Rakitic: 9/10
3 – Since at least 2013/2014 season, two Top-Flight players have provided three assists in a single Copa del Rey's game: James Rodríguez en 2016 e Iván Rakitic en 2018, both versus Cultural Leonesa. "Hat-trick" pic.twitter.com/sNeUlWdAi4
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 5, 2018
Rakitic was a late selection, after Arturo Vidal pulled out due to illness, Rakitic singlehandedly ensured Barcelona put the cup tie to bed in the first half itself. With three assists, he became only the second top-flight player to ever record a hat-trick of assists in the Copa del Rey. Given a well deserved a rest at half-time.
Oriol Busquets: 7/10
Oriol Busquets was the third Barcelona B player who received a rare opportunity to impress Ernesto Valverde. Taking the spot usually occupied by his namesake Sergio Busquets, the young Spaniard set the tempo of the game from a deep lying position in midfield, just like the veteran Spaniard. Taken off with 35 minutes left, with the game dead and buried.
Carles Alena: 7/10
Promoted to the first-team setup on a full-time basis this week, Alena celebrated with a solid performance. Kept things tidy in the middle of the park while linking up well with Denis Suarez and Juan Miranda. Will now hope to feature regularly for the first-team going forward.
Given a chance to impress, Malcom was decent enough for the most part. But, the highlight of the game was the powerful header that yielded the Brazilian his second goal in Barcelona colours. However, the night in tears, as he was forced off the field due to an ankle injury, which Valverde will hope is not too serious.
Munir El Haddadi: 7/10
Another fringe player who had the chance to make an impression, Munir flitted in and out of the game. But, when presented with an opportunity to find the back of the net, the La Masia graduate produced a thumping effort that Jorge Palatsi had no reply for. A handy backup for Luis Suarez.
Denis Suarez: 9/10
The frustrationshave been piling for Denis Suarez, who has not found first-team opportunities to be as forthcoming as he would have liked. But, on Wednesday, the young Spaniard made a statement with a couple of well taken goals. His first, in particular, was a delightful finish, and he could have had more on the night.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
On for Rakitic at half-time, Busquets took it easy, with Barcelona already wrapping up the Copa del Rey tie.
Riqui Puig: 7/10
Puig was obliged with a golden opportunity to showcase his abilities. And, in assisting Denis Suarez’s second goal, the academy product did exactly that, with his exquisite chipped pass. The excitement around his talent will only grow from here.
Clement Lenglet: 6/10
On for the final half hour, Lenglet slotted in alongside Vermaelen and added even more solidity at the back for Barcelona.