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Messi shines again as Barcelona stroll into Cup quarters

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Barcelona: FC Barcelona brushed past Celta Vigo 5-0 in the second leg and 6-1 on aggregate to book their place in the last 16 of the King’s Cup knockout football tournament.

With new signing Philippe Coutinho watching on from the stands, Lionel Messi led the destruction of the Galician side, reports Xinhua news agency.

Celta drew 2-2 in the Camp Nou in the La Liga earlier in the season and held Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw on Sunday.

Argentinean Messi scored in the 13th and 15th minutes following passes from left-back Jordi Alba. He then returned the favour in the 28th minute with a pass which allowed Alba to put Barcelona 3-0 ahead.

Luis Suarez took advantage of a poor back pass three minutes later to make it 4-0 and end any chance of Celta getting back into the tie.

Barcelona chief coach Ernesto Valverde decided to rest central defender Gerard Pique at halftime and took Messi off just before the hour mark to give young winger Ousmane Dembele further gametime following his injury.

As a result, the second half was a dull affair as both sides started saving their strength for the weekend. It wasn’t until the last minute that Ivan Rakitic netted the fifth from a corner taken by Dembele.

Earlier in the day, Espanyol overturned a 1-2 first leg deficit against Levante to qualify 3-2 on aggregate thanks to a 2-0 win away at Ciudad de Valencia Stadium. Goals from Leo Baptistao and Gerard Moreno sent Espanyol through.

Sevilla also qualified for the quarter-finals with a 4-1 aggregate win after beating Cadiz 2-1 thanks to goals from Wissam Ben Yedder and Joaquin Correa.

Thursday’s qualifiers join Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Leganes, Alaves and Valencia who already sealed their qualification on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

IANS

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