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Lionel Messi Masterclass Sees Barcelona Past Celta Vigo in Copa del Rey Last 16

Lionel Messi propelled Barcelona into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday, as the Blaugrana breezed past Celta Vigo 5-0 at the Camp Nou and 6-1 on aggregate. After an even first leg finished 1-1 at Balaidos, Barca tore into the Galicians in a stunning opening 30 minutes here, with Messi grabbing a brace, Jordi Alba netting a third and Luis Suarez scoring a fourth to put the hosts 4-0 up at the interval. Messi's masterclass came to an end after an hour, as he was replaced with the tie effectively over. Barcelona cruised through the rest of the game, adding a fifth late on through Ivan Rakitic and ensuring they were in the hat for Friday's quarter-final draw. Given Celta have performed well against the better sides in La Liga this season, there was no sense that this tie was over after the first leg. Within half an hour, it was dead and buried. Messi took a little bit of time to get into the game before he lit up the contest with two stunning minutes of football On 13 minutes, the No. 10 had Barcelona in front after he converted a cutback from Alba on the half-volley. Per Marca's Jason Pettigrove, it was a landmark goal for Messi: The evening got even better for the forward a couple of minutes later, as Alba once again found space down the left and teed up Messi, who finished routinely. Already it was looking like a massive ask for Celta, who were being torn about by a vintage Barcelona display. It was a vintage Messi display, too, and despite netting a couple of goals early on, the finest moment of the first half was his involvement in the third. And once again, it was that linkup with Alba that Celta were unable to stem. Messi dropped deep, looked up and angled an unbelievable pass into the left-back's path over the top of the defence. Alba nudged home a clever finish, although journalist Rafael Hernandez was marvelling at the assist: Bet365 provided the numbers behind the Messi-Alba axis that was dismantling the hapless visitors: Celta's heads were spinning, and it was no surprise to see errors creeping into their game. Pione Sisto made a catastrophic one after half an hour, as his slack back pass was pounced upon by Suarez, who finished emphatically. It gave Barcelona a 4-0 lead at half-time, with their place in the last eight effectively secured. It also meant manager Ernesto Valverde was able to rest players ahead of the weekend's meeting with Real Sociedad. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Messi made way before the hour mark for Ousmane Dembele. Naturally, he received a standing ovation from the Camp Nou; Bleacher Report UK hailed his contribution: Not long after, Andres Iniesta was also withdrawn from the action, and given there was no need to chase more goals, Barcelona were happy to hold the ball and conserve energy for much of the second period. The main entertainment in the second half came from Dembele late on, who produced some wonderful pieces of skill to get the supporters on their feet. It was another encouraging sign for Barcelona, with the Frenchman continuing his recovery from a recent injury layoff. Barca did make it a five-star performance, though, as Rakitic took advantage of some woeful Celta defending to head home from a corner three minutes from time. With Philippe Coutinho to come into this side, there are no signs of this remarkable campaign losing momentum for Barca. And if Messi continues to perform to such high standards, it's hard to see any side halting the Blaugrana in any competition.Read more World Football news on BleacherReport.com...

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Published By: Bleacher Report - Thursday, 11 January







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