Denis Suarez scored twice as Barcelona eased into the Copa del Rey last 16 by seeing off minnows Cultural Leonesa 4-1 at Camp Nou.
Ernesto Valverde’s side relied on a last-gasp goal from Clement Lenglet to win the first leg, but endured no such difficulties in overcoming their Segunda Division B opponents en route to a 5-1 aggregate triumph this time around.
Munir El Haddadi’s sublime 18th-minute effort got Barca up and running, with Suarez swiftly making it two before Malcom put the holders out of sight before half-time thanks to a third assist from Ivan Rakitic.
Jasper Cillessen’s error enabled Josep Sene to haul one back for Cultural, but there was no danger of a comeback, with Suarez’s second capping a comfortable passage through to the last 16.
Cultural started well, Adrian Mance forcing Cillessen into an early save, but it did not take long for Barca to exert their dominance – Munir spinning clear of his marker in the area to arrow in a high finish.
Munir hit the base of the upright when one-on-one with Jorge Palatsi, though Cultural’s goalkeeper was soon beaten again when, having latched onto Rakitic’s sublime pass, Suarez placed a neat effort into the bottom-right corner.
Rakitic had his third assist two minutes before the interval with a delicate cross into the unmarked Malcom, who clinically headed home.
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
Cultural’s battling display was rewarded nine minutes into the second half, Cillessen’s fumble falling kindly for Jose Manuel Alonso, whose cut-back was tucked home by Sene.
But Barca had the final say when Suarez latched onto Riqui Puig’s disguised pass to add further gloss to a convincing win.
What does it mean? Barca’s back-up brigade leave their mark
The likes of Munir and Malcom have found game time hard to come by this season, while reports have emerged that Suarez could be set to leave the club in January.
But while none of them are likely to threaten the likes of Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez’s places in Valverde’s first team, they did all that was asked of them to seal Barca’s last-16 berth in style.
Rakitic’s quality shines through
Captaining Barca’s largely inexperienced side, Rakitic’s quality proved too much for Cultural, and the playmaker turned on the style with three assists, including a superb diagonal in the lead-up to the hosts’ second before making way for Sergio Busquets at half-time.
Cillessen makes a hash of things
The Dutchman was hardly tested throughout Wednesday’s encounter, but his failure to deal with Jorge Ortiz’s stinging drive ultimately cost Barca their clean sheet.
While Barca face city rivals Espanyol in a Catalonia derby on Saturday, Cultural are in Segunda Division B action against Guijuelo a day later.
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