Football news - Teenager Riqui Puig shines on debut as Barcelona ease into Copa last 16
Copa del Rey last 32 second leg, Camp Nou - Barcelona 4 (Munir 18', Denis 26', 70', Malcom 43') Cultural Leonesa 1 (Sene 55') 5-1 on aggregate
Denis Suarez bagged a brace as Barcelona eased into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a 4-1 (5-1 on aggregate) win over Cultural Leonesa.
Holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg, played over a month ago, Ernesto Valverde rang the changes, with the likes of Munir El-Haddadi, Carles Alena, Denis, Juan Miranda and Chumi all handed starting places.
Malcom of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammate Munir El Haddadi after scoring his team's third goal during the Copa del Rey fourth round second leg match between FC Barcelona and Cultural Leonesa at Camp Nou on December 05, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.Getty Images
A 19th minute opener from Munir hinted at a comfortable evening for the Catalans, and so it proved to be, with Denis adding a second after 26 minutes. From there Barcelona scored a third just before the break through Malcom, who powered home a header from an Ivan Rakitic cross.
Cultural Leonesa grabbed a consolation goal in the second half before Denis completed the scoring, latching on to teenager Riqui Puig’s exceptional through ball to squeeze a finish into the far corner of the net. The only thing that marred this performance for Barca was a late ankle injury to Malcom, who left the pitch in tears.
Will it be five years in a row for Barcelona? The Copa del Rey has been Barcelona’s competition in recent years, lifting the trophy for four years in a row. Now into the last 16 (as expected) will it soon be five years in a row for the Catalans? Or will the unpredictability that we have seen in La Liga this season creep into the King’s cup? It’s in the next round that Barcelona will begin to face a real test.
Munir El Haddadi of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammate Ivan Rakitic (R) after scoring the opening goal during the Copa del Rey fourth round second leg match between FC Barcelona and Cultural Leonesa at Camp Nou on December 05, 2018 in Barcelona, SpGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Riqui Puig (Barcelona) Okay, he was only on the pitch for 35 minutes, but the performance of 17-year-old Puig is all Barcelona fans will be talking about this after all. Much has been said and written about the teenager in recent weeks and months, and this cameo display off the bench backed all of it up. Sure, it was against third tier opposition, but Puig controlled the game for Barca after coming on. It was Xavi-esque. Remember the name.
Riqui Puig of FC Barcelona conducts the ball during the Copa del Rey fourth round second leg match between FC Barcelona and Cultural Leonesa at Camp Nou on December 05, 2018 in Barcelona, SpainGetty Images
Cultural Leonesa - Palatsi 7, Alonso 7, Viti 5, Albizua 5, Bernal 6, Vicente 5, Mancebo 6, Glez 5, Ortiz 7, Sene 7, Rodriguez 5. Subs - Martinez 5, Capilla 5, Escalante 5.
19’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-0 Cultural Leonsa: It's an opener for Barcelona and it's Muni who finds the back of the net for the home side! Rakitic provides the assist, Munir turns on the ball and lashes a shot past the goalkeeper. Might that be game over?
26’ GOAL! Barcelona 2-0 Cultural Leonesa: Golazoooooo! Barcelona have doubled their lead on the night and it's Denis who grabs the goal. He was given far too much space 20 yards out from goal and curved a finish past the goalkeeper with his right foot! Decent strike.
43’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-0 Cultural Leonesa: A third goal for Barcelona! Rakitic teases the cross into the penalty area and Malcom was on hand to power home a header. That was a great finish from the Brazilian winger. He had a lot of work to do to send that into the back of the net.
Malcom of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Copa del Rey fourth round second leg match between FC Barcelona and Cultural Leonesa at Camp Nou on December 05, 2018 in Barcelona, SpainGetty Images
54’ GOAL! Barcelona 3-1 Cultural Leonesa: It's a cheap goal for Barcelona to give up! Ortiz's shot was parried wide by Cillessen, the ball is then squared back into the box and Sene was on hand to finish from close range. Nothing more than a consolation goal, though.
70’ GOAL! Barcelona 4-1 Cultural Leonesa: What a goal from Barcelona and it was all about the pass from Puig! The teenager clipped through a clever ball for Denis to run through on to and he squeezed a shot into the far corner of the net. Make sure you see this pass.
Since the start of the 2013/14 season, only two players have made three assists in one Copa del Rey game - James Rodriguez in 2016 and Ivan Rakitic today. Both against Cultural Leonesa.
Munir El-Haddadi scored with Barcelona’s first touch of the ball in the opposition penalty area.