Fri, Jan 15, 2016 - Page 19 News List

Barcelona beat RCD Espanyol 2-0


Barcelona’s Aleix Vidal, right, and Roberto Correa of RCD Espanyol vie for the ball during their Copa del Rey last-16 game at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.

Photo: AP

Munir El Haddadi scored both of their goals as Barcelona beat RCD Espanyol 2-0 on Wednesday to ease into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey with a 6-1 victory on aggregate.

Lionel Messi, two days after collecting his record fifth Ballon d’Or award, played El Haddadi through with a long pass to score Barcelona’s opener in the 32nd minute.

The 20-year-old El Haddadi netted his second with two minutes remaining.

“This is good for Munir, the fact that he participated in many facets today,” coach Luis Enrique said about the little-used forward.

“He has a knack for scoring,” Enrique said.

After two ill-tempered derbies in the past two weeks — a 0-0 draw in La Liga before Barcelona’s 4-1 first-leg win, which featured 20 yellow cards and two reds — the return match at Estadi Cornella-El Prat was a tame affair, only brought to life by Messi.

“Today we saw a much calmer match, perhaps in part because the result was difficult to overcome, but this has been talked about too much,” Enrique said.

While the defending champions moved on, so did last year’s finalist, Athletic Bilbao.

Bilbao got a first-half goal from Inaki Williams to win 1-0 against Villarreal and advance 4-2 on aggregate.

RC Celta de Vigo finished off third-tier Cadiz 2-0 to advance with a 5-0 victory over two legs.

UD Las Palmas beat Sociedad Deportiva Eibar 3-2, matching the scoreline from their first-leg victory.

In Barcelona, almost all the players who participated in the most heated exchanges from the first leg — which Espanyol ended with nine men and was followed with a verbal confrontation in the Camp Nou tunnel — did not start on Wednesday.

Barcelona were already without Luis Suarez, who was suspended for two matches over insults he directed at Espanyol’s players, and Luis Enrique left Neymar and Gerard Pique on the bench. Pique had taunted Espanyol’s fans after the first leg.

Neymar was rested hours after a judge summoned him for questioning in an investigation into the Brazil striker’s transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.

Messi had the game’s first two shots on goal, both turned back by Francesco Bardi.

However, the Italian goalkeeper could do nothing to stop El Haddadi after he received Messi’s pass, dribbled past him and chipped the ball home.

Tempers flared briefly when Felipe Caicedo stepped on the foot of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but calm was restored shortly before Ter Stegen saved Caicedo’s shot in a one-on-one opportunity before halftime.

El Haddadi capped a lifeless second half when he steered in Aleix Vidal’s cross home after Ardau Turan had played the winger wide.

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