Espanyol gave Barcelona an early scare in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie, but the defending champions hit back to win 4-1 with the visitors finishing with nine men.
- Barcelona 4-1 Espanyol
- Caicedo opener silences Camp Nou
- Messi responds with brace before break
- Pique gives Barca two-goal lead
- Espanyol finish with nine men
- Neymar scores fourth late on
On the back of a goalless La Liga draw with their Catalan neighbours on Saturday, many expected Espanyol would employ the same tactics, but they opened the scoring after just nine minutes through Felipe Caicedo.
However, their lead didn’t last too long as Lionel Messi latched onto Andres Iniesta’s ball to score the equaliser four minutes later. It was 2-1 just before the break as Messi scored from a free-kick, while Gerard Pique hit a third in the second half.
Hernan Perez and Pape Diop were sent off in the space of four minutes before Neymar gave Barcelona a three-goal cushion two minutes before the end.
Midfielder Arda Turan was handed his long-awaited Barcelona debut by manager Luis Enrique in the first leg of the last-16 game at Camp Nou as the Catalan giants were finally able to register players again following their transfer ban.
Although Neymar drew the first save of the match as he collected Messi’s ball before his shot was smothered by goalkeeper Pau Lopez, Espanyol were first on the scoresheet through Caicedo.
Midfielder Marco Asensio robbed right-back Dani Alves on the halfway line and then charged down field before sliding the ball through to Caicedo, who slotted past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the ninth minute.
The visitors were ahead for just four minutes as Iniesta found Messi and the Argentine took a couple of touches before firing in the equaliser.
Barcelona went 2-1 up just a minute before the half-time whistle as Joan Jordan fouled Iniesta from 30 yards out and Messi stepped up to score a stunning free kick that went in off the crossbar.
The pressure continued when play resumed and defender Gerard Pique, who had stayed up after a free-kick, gave Barca a two-goal lead as he put Messi’s cross from the left in from just two yards.
Espanyol were reduced to 10 players in the 72nd minute as Hernan Perez received a second yellow for blocking Jordi Alba and three minutes later they were done to nine as Pape Diop was given a straight red for dissent.
Neymar put the icing on the cake for Barcelona as he played a one-two with Messi and Argentine’s lofted pass over the top found him in the box and he made no mistake with the volley.