Lionel Messi scored both goals as Barcelona advanced to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Getafe on Thursday evening in Madrid.
The result clinched a 6-0 aggregate win for Barcelona, who won the first leg, 4-0, at the Camp Nou on Jan. 8.
Messi's goals were his third and fourth since returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for five weeks. He also scored twice in the first leg.
The Argentine's second goal, a superb solo effort, was the highlight of the match, which Barcelona dominated without playing their absolute best.
Xavi, who entered the match as a second-half substitute for Cesc Fabregas, made his 700th official appearance for Barcelona, most in club history. But the victory was tarnished by an ankle injury to Neymar, who limped off in the 28th minute after spending several minutes receiving treatment along the byline.
Carrying a 4-0 lead from the first leg, Barcelona manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino opted to rotate his squad extensively. Midfielder Cesc and defender Dani Alves were the only returning starters from the side that drew at Atletico Madrid in the league on Saturday.
Not that Martino selected a weak team. Ballon d'Or finalist Messi returned to Barcelona's starting lineup for the first time since he sustained an injury at Real Betis on Nov. 10, and he was joined by Neymar in the attack. Marc Bartra and Carles Puyol anchored the defence, with Jose Manuel Pinto deputising for Victor Valdes in goal.
True to form, the visitors immediately set out to hold possession and attack Getafe's goal.
Messi came close to scoring the opening goal in only the fourth minute, shooting wide following Neymar's pull-back. In the 13th minute, Cristian Tello blasted high and wide from a tight angle after a set piece was deflected into his path. Messi had a free-kick chance in the 17th minute, but his curled shot flew straight at Getafe goalkeeper Jordi Codina.
But the best chance of the opening exchanges fell to Getafe in the 19th minute. Angel Lafita crossed from the left, and Pablo Sarabia nodded the ball into the path of Juan Rodriguez. Rodriguez connected well with his first-time volley, but Pinto produced a fine reaction save to keep the visitors level.
Barcelona received bad news in the 22nd minute, when Neymar injured his ankle trying to make a cross from deep on the left. The Brazilian left the pitch under assistance from Barcelona's staff and played no further part in the match.
Alexis Sanchez replaced Neymar in the 28th minute. According to @FCBarcelona, Neymar sprained the peroneal tendon in his right ankle.
Eight minutes later, Getafe were forced into a substitution as well when defender Alexis had to be stretchered off with an injury. He was replaced by Lisandro Lopez.
Neymar's injury appeared to affect Barcelona negatively for a spell, but the visitors finally went ahead in the 44th minute, thanks to a familiar goalscorer.
Cesc freed Tello with a pass on the left side of the box, and Tello crossed first-time for Messi in the middle. From there, Messi needed only one touch to redirect the ball into the net to give Barcelona a 1-0 lead at half-time.
Messi made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute with a vintage solo goal.
Starting with the ball at his feet outside the Getafe box, Messi weaved his way through traffic and accelerated past Codina before finishing in the unguarded net from a tight angle.
Only one minute later, the Argentine came close to completing his hat-trick, taking another chance after running onto a long ball over the top. This time, though, Codina saved one-on-one.
Getafe had a chance to pull a goal back in the 78th minute, when Vigaray set up Colunga with a dangerous cross, but Colunga hooked his shot too close to Pinto.
Messi had one more chance for his hat-trick in the 86th minute after once again weaving through multiple Getafe defenders inside the box, but Codina produced a fine kick-save to keep the score at 2-0.
|Barcelona Player Ratings vs. Getafe|
|Jose Manuel Pinto||9||9|