Messi powers Barca past Getafe into Copa quarters
MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi scored a pair against Getafe to power Barcelona into the Copa del Rey quarterfinals with a 2-0 win which was mired by an injury to Neymar on Thursday.
Days after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo end his four-year domination of the Ballon d’Or, Messi demonstrated his intention to pry it right back from his Real Madrid counterpart with goals in each half to guide the Spanish champions into the last eight by an aggregate score of 6-0.
But the victory was tarnished by Neymar’s exit in the 22nd minute after the Brazil striker turned his right ankle while attempting to extend his dribble to the goal-line, falling under his own weight and going over his limb.
Barcelona, which will play Levante in the last eight, said Neymar tore tendons in the ankle.
Neymar, who was replaced by Alexis Sanchez, was in obvious pain after going down without any contact, appearing to catch his boot in the grass and go over it.
“Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” coach Gerardo Martino said. “He’ll be sidelined for a time but everyone should stay cool, he’s alright. I don’t think it will sideline him too long.”
After losing 4-0 at Barcelona, the hosts nearly gained some early momentum at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez only for Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto to deny Pablo Sarabia moments before Neymar’s injury.
But Getafe never stood a chance of getting back into the series after that as Messi ensured there would be no repeat of the 2006-07 season when Barcelona lost 4-0 here in the return leg to miss out on the final.
Cesc Fabregas played to Cristian Tello’s run into the left side of the area and Messi was well-placed to redirect the Barcelona winger’s cross beyond goalkeeper Jordi Codina for the 44th-minute opener.
The Argentina forward showed he hadn’t lost any of his pace after missing two months as he blew past four defenders in the 63rd and into the area around Codina before slotting home from a tight angle for 2-0.
“It was only a question of time until Messi played 90 minutes,” Martino said. “He’s been taking it little-by-little and he’s feeling better. He just needed some playing time after being out 60 days.”
Codina did well to deny Messi a hat trick, making a lightning quick reaction save with his leg to deny Messi from inside the area just before the end.
Midfielder Xavi Hernandez replaced Fabregas in the 70th to make his 700th appearance for Barcelona.
Earlier, Real Sociedad made up for an embarrassing league loss to Villarreal by winning at its rival 1-0 to also reach the quarterfinals.
Villarreal routed Sociedad 5-1 at its El Madrigal Stadium on Monday, but three days later the Basques secured passage into the last eight following a scoreless first leg.
Javi Ros put Real in command with a valuable away goal in the 32nd minute, stabbing home a loose ball from inside the box after goalkeeper Juan Carlos Sanchez made the initial save on Xabi Prieto.
Real moves on to face third-tier Racing Santander in the knockout competition.
Also, defending champion Atletico Madrid plays Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid faces Espanyol in the quarterfinals, with first legs kicking off next week.