Monday, May 27, 2024 | Last Update : 12:05 AM IST

  Copa del Rey: Majestic Messi

Copa del Rey: Majestic Messi

AP
Published : Jan 8, 2016, 5:45 am IST
Updated : Jan 8, 2016, 5:45 am IST

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (left) celebrates after scoring against Espanyol in their Copa del Rey match at Camp Nou in Barcelona on Wednesday. The hosts won 4-1. — AP

messi.jpg
 messi.jpg

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (left) celebrates after scoring against Espanyol in their Copa del Rey match at Camp Nou in Barcelona on Wednesday. The hosts won 4-1. — AP

A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona reacted from the shock of conceding early to edge towards the Copa del Rey quarter-finals with a 4-1 win over nine-man Espanyol.

Espanyol held the European champions 0-0 in a bad-tempered first of three meetings between the sides in 10 days at the weekend and threatened an upset early on through Felipe Caicedo’s composed finish.

Yet, Messi took just four minutes to restore parity before blasting a stunning free-kick in off the underside of the bar just before half-time.

The Argentine teed up Gerard Pique for a third and then Neymar for a sensational volleyed finish two minutes from time to hand Barca a commanding advantage ahead of the second leg on January 13.

However, Messi was lucky to escape without being seriously injured after being violently stamped on by Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez without any action taken by the officials before Hernan Perez and Papakouli Diop were dismissed. Arda Turan was handed his Barca debut after joining from Atletico Madrid in July as the Catalans' year-long ban on registering new players came to an end on Monday.

Yet, Barca were stunned on nine minutes when on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio robbed Dani Alves and played in Caicedo to slot home.

A wonderful through ball from Andres Iniesta ensured the lead was short-lived as Messi fired past Lopez. Striker Suarez faces three-match ban Barcelona striker Luis Suarez faces a ban of up to three Copa del Rey matches after being cited in the referee’s report for calling Espanyol players “a waste of space” at the end of a heated Catalan derby.

“Whilst all the Espanyol players climbed the stairs in the tunnel towards the dressing rooms, he (Suarez) waited for them and confronted them saying on various occasions: “Here I am waiting for you, come here; you are a waste of space,” referee Juan Martinez Munuera wrote in his report.

“That provoked a clash between players from both clubs forcing security personnel present and the managerial staff from both teams to intervene,” the report added.

Espanyol’s physical approach had frustrated Barca in an equally fiery clash between the two in La Liga on Saturday which finished 0-0.

Location: Spain, Madrid