Barcelona did not need Lionel Messi to secure a successful start to their Copa del Rey defense on Tuesday, beating third-tier Deportivo Alaves 3-0 after goals by David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.
Villa opened the scoring in the 40th minute when he perfectly timed his run past Alaves’ back four to powerfully latch onto a pass by Iniesta and send it into the net via the crossbar.
Villa, who missed the second half of last season after breaking his leg, said he is enjoying every minute being back on the pitch.
“From hospital, it was difficult to score goals,” Villa said.
Iniesta added the second in the 51st minute after a well-worked move.
Fabregas won possession deep in Alaves’ half and threaded a cross through the defense to Villa, who found Iniesta with a delicate tap. The Spain international midfielder then scored with a delightfully controlled lob over Alaves goalkeeper Urtzi Iturrioz.
Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez had what appeared to be a legitimate goal disallowed for offside in the 56th minute, but Fabregas rose above the Alaves defense to head in a precisely aimed cross from the right by Dani Alves in the 88th.
Coach Tito Vilanova had decided to rest Messi, forward Pedro Rodriguez, midfielder Xavi Hernandez and defender Jordi Alba for the game.
With several other defenders out injured, Vilanova selected Martin Montoya, Javier Mascherano, Marc Bartra and Dani Alves as the back four.
Earlier on Tuesday, goals by Nelson Valdez and Jonas gave Valencia a 2-0 win over lower-tier club UE Llagostera.
Playing in pouring rain at Llagostera’s 2,500-capacity stadium 100km northeast of Barcelona, Valencia’s Brazilian forward Jonas headed midfielder Daniel Parejo’s pass into the net in first-half stoppage-time.
Valdez then headed in a corner from Parejo in the 66th minute.
Llagostera is an agricultural town of 8,000 and its soccer club has 500 members and an annual budget of 400,000 euros (US$519,000).