Barcelona advanced to the semi-finals of the Spanish Copa del Rey with a 5-1 victory at home to La Liga rivals Levante on a rainy Wednesday evening at the Camp Nou.
Adriano and Carles Puyol scored in the first half as Barcelona turned around an early deficit following Sergi Roberto's ninth-minute own goal. Alexis Sanchez sealed the victory with a quickfire double shortly after the interval, and Cesc Fabregas added the fifth midway through the half.
The result gave Barcelona a 9-2 aggregate victory over the two-legged quarter-final. Gerardo "Tata" Martino's side won the first leg, 4-1, last week at Levante.
Barcelona will play either Racing Santander or Real Sociedad in the semi-finals.
"I was concerned with our first fifteen minutes, because we weren’t being intense enough," Martino said, per Inside Spanish Football. "But we played the remaining 70 minutes or so at a good level of intensity, with good capability to get the goals. I’m happy with that and it's what we wanted."
Martino made nine changes to the side that defeated Malaga, 3-0, in the league at the weekend. Only Alexis and Cesc remained in the squad, with Cesc moving from midfield into the forward line.
Levante went ahead via a corner in the ninth minute when Roberto deflected Loukas Vyntra's header into his own net. The Barcelona man nearly scored at the other end eight minutes later, but his shot was tipped over by Levante goalkeeper Javi Jimenez.
Barca were level in the 28th minute via Adriano's long-distance finish from Cesc' layoff. Puyol then put the hosts ahead with a header from Cristian Tello's corner one minute before half-time.
Barcelona sealed the tie with Alexis' quick double early in the second half.
In the 50th minute, Alexis tapped in after Martin Montoya's chipped shot slipped through Jimenez's hands. The Chilean then made it 4-1 just two minutes later, poking in the rebound after Jimenez kicked Adriano's deflected shot onto the bar.
Cesc grabbed Barca's fifth in the 68th minute, finishing at the near post past Jimenez, who was unsighted when the ball passed through Levante defender Juanfran's legs.
It was Cesc' final contribution of the match. One minute later, he was replaced by Ibrahim Afellay.
With the victory and progression to the semi-finals secure, Barcelona eased off in the final 20 minutes, enjoying plenty of possession and mounting only occasional attacks.
Reaction to follow…
|Barcelona Player Ratings vs. Levante|
|Jose Manuel Pinto||8||8|
|Pedro (for Iniesta, 46')||N/A||7|
|Ibrahim Afellay (for Cesc, 69')||N/A||7|
|Javier Mascherano (for Alexis, 78')||N/A||7|
Barcelona return to La Liga with a match at home against Valencia on Saturday.
Levante host Rayo Vallecano the same day.