Barcelona have defeated Cordoba 2-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie, while Real Madrid stumbled away at Celta Vigo.
Lionel Messi was the difference once again for Barcelona, scoring in either half to take his 2012 tally to 88 goals and put his side in pole position to advance to the quarter-finals ahead of their second-tier opponents.
All the early momentum belonged to Cordoba, with a powerful drive from Fede forcing Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Pinto into an acrobatic save, before Sebastian Dubarbier crossed towards the far post, where Pedro Antonio drilled the ball just wide.
But Barcelona survived the early test and took the lead in the 11th minute when Pedro showed good awareness to pick out the unmarked David Villa on the left, who squared the ball to Messi to score from a few yards out.
Both sides had plenty of chances in the second half before Messi scored in 74th minute, sliding the ball in at the far post to finish off Alexis Sanchez’s pass.
Barcelona will take their 2-0 first-leg lead into their home match on December 18.
In Vigo, Real had Cristiano Ronaldo to thank for giving them a crucial away goal after a disappointing match away from home.
Celta stunned their much-vaunted opponents in the 56th minute when Michael Krohn-Dehli’s teasing cross found Mario Bermejo at the back post and the veteran forward side-footed the ball home from a tight angle.
The theme of Real’s stuttering season continued 22 minutes later when Celta’s pressure forced the capital club to cough up position and Cristian Bustos took advantage, driving forward with the ball and then smashing a brilliant strike from outside the box into the far top corner.
But with a second leg in Madrid to come, Ronaldo gave Real plenty of hope of progressing to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, scoring in the 87th minute after timing his run expertly to get in behind Celta’s defence.
In other first leg results in the Round of 16, Sevilla look to have just about qualified after smashing Mallorca 5-0, Valencia won 2-0 away to Osasuna and Atletico Madrid triumphed 3-0 over Getafe.