Barcelona and Real Madrid overcome scares against lower-league sides to win in Copa del Rey

Dani Alves made his return to the Barcelona team after signing in December

Sports Staff
Wednesday 05 January 2022 22:30
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Champions Barcelona survived an early scare as they fought back to secure a 2-1 win at third-tier side Linares Deportivo in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday that sent them into the Round of 16.

The big news going into the game was Dani Alves’s first appearance following his return to the club after six years.

The 38-year-old right back, who started the game as a winger, became on Wednesday the oldest player to feature for Barcelona in a competitive match, surpassing Jose Manuel Pinto by 54 days.

Barca made the trip to Andalucia missing several players due to COVID-19 and injuries, but coach Xavi Hernandez still decided to rest some key names for the last-32 tie and they fell behind in the 19th minute to a Hugo Diaz header.

Xavi then brought on Frenkie de Jong, Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele in the second half, with the French winger equalising with a low long shot that keeper Brimah Razak failed to stop.

A few minutes later, young academy striker Ferran Jutgla scored the winner with a cross-shot from the corner of the box after a counter-attack.

“I am very happy to help the team, to do what the coach asks me to do,” Jutgla told reporters. “They came out very strong, perhaps a little stronger than us.” Barca joined Espanyol, Real Sociedad, Valencia, Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano, Mallorca and third-tier Atletico Baleares, who eliminated LaLiga side Celta Vigo with a 2-1 win, as the first clubs to advance into the last-16.

Real Madrid also progressed, scoring twice in two second-half minutes to overcome Alcoyano by a 3-1 scoreline.

Eder Militao headed in a first-half opener, but the third-tier side equalised courtesy of a tremendous solo strike from Dani Vega.

In the final 15 minutes, though, Real’s bench proved decisive as second half sub Marco Asensio and scored, before fellow replacement Isco came on and caused enough uncertainty to lead to a comical own goal which eventually went in off goalkeeper Jose Juan.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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