Barcelona advance to Copa del Ray quarter-finals

Madrid, Jan 14 (IANS) FC Barcelona, Las Palmas, Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo all advanced to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals as the second-leg matches delivered no surprises.

Barcelona thumped city rival Espanyol 4-1 at the Nou Camp stadium in a nasty first-leg clash that saw two visiting players ejected, followed by a war of words in the press, reports Efe.

But Wednesday’s contest at a less-than-full Cornella-El Prat stadium was a fairly lifeless affair dominated throughout by the visitors.

What appeared a nearly impossible task at the opening whistle was made all but unimaginable when Munir scored for Barcelona in the 32nd minute on a great ball from Lionel Messi.

Munir got a second goal with minutes left in regulation to win the second leg match 2-0 for Barcelona with them advancing with a 6-1 aggregate score.

Having won the first leg at home 3-2, Athletic was clearly the more determined side in Wednesday’s away match against Villarreal. While the hosts kept several of their top players on the bench, the visitors held almost no one back.

Inaki Williams’ first-half goal turned out to be all Athletic needed to triumph 4-2 on aggregate and advance to the Copa quarter-finals for the third straight year.

Celta, who dominated 3-0 at Cadiz in the first leg, fielded a line-up of subs for the second leg in Vigo and still cruised to a 2-0 victory for a 5-0 aggregate triumph.

The day’s most compelling match pitted Las Palmas against Eibar.

The Canarian side won 3-2 away in the first leg and seemed assured of the quarter-final berth after Eibar’s David Junca scored an own goal.

Undaunted, the visitors pulled ahead 2-1 on the night with a pair of goals in the space of two minutes early in the second half, but Las Palmas answered with two goals of their own to win 6-4 on aggregate and claim a quarter-final spot for only the third time.

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