Monday, February 6, 2023

Ceuta 0-5 Barcelona: Five-star Blaugrana see off minnows to reach Copa del Rey quarter-finals

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Jan 2023

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Barcelona sailed comfortably into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals thanks to a second-half splurge of goals in Thursday’s 5-0 win over third-tier Ceuta.

The Blaugrana started slow at Estadio Alfonso Murube, but ultimately had few issues in sealing a place in the last eight.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice in the second half, either side of goals from Ansu Fati and Franck Kessie, to ensure Barca’s progression was routine enough, with Raphinha having put the visitors ahead before the interval.

LaLiga leaders Barca are well in the hunt for a domestic clean sweep after their Supercopa de Espana victory over Real Madrid.

Despite naming a side littered with top-tier talent, Barca did not impose themselves as well as might have been expected throughout the first half.

The visitors struggled for clear-cut opportunities despite posting an overwhelming 69.8 per cent possession figure.

It was a piece of individual brilliance that unlocked their hosts four minutes before half-time, when Raphinha curled beyond Tomas Mejias.

Barca doubled their lead five minutes after the break, when Kessie picked off a wayward pass deep in Ceuta territory to set Lewandowski up for an easy finish.

Fati capped a fine solo run with a deft touch to put Barca 3-0 up, with Kessie turning from provider to scorer as he headed in from Raphinha’s cross seven minutes later.

Lewandowski got his second in the 90th minute, drilling low into the corner to cap off an emphatic win after Kessie, Fati and Jordi Alba had gone close.

What does it mean? Barca proceed in style

Against the lowest-ranked side left in the Copa del Rey, Barca were never likely to be at risk of a major shock, even as they struggled to find the back of the net early on.

Their five-goal margin of victory may have been something of a disservice to their hosts, who Barca had met on three previous occasions before this tie, winning all of those games, but it nevertheless is a worthy result of their talents as they continue their revival under Xavi.

Alarcon another fresh face

Cup clashes with lower-league opposition are always a good proving ground for new blood, and so it was again as Barcelona handed a debut to teenager Angel Alarcon.

The Spain youth international spent all of the 2021-22 season sidelined after rupturing his ACL, but made his senior bow late on as a replacement for Raphinha, who led Barca for chances created, along with Kessie and Alba (three each).

Kessie key to success

Amid a first half short on chances, it was the Ivory Coast international who set up Raphinha’s opener before going on to run the show for Barca.

In addition to a goal of his own, he provided two assists and had a game-high four shots. He was central to this win.

What’s next?

Barca return to LaLiga action with the visit of Getafe to Camp Nou on Sunday.

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