MADRID, Spain– Lionel
Messi scored twice as Barcelona hammered Leganes 5-0 on Thursday to advance to
the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey and deliver a much-needed boost for new
coach Quique Setien. 

Messi’s double, as well as goals from Antoine Griezmann,
Clement Lenglet and Arthur Melo rounded off an emphatic win at Camp Nou, where
Barca successfully bounced back from Saturday’s surprise La Liga loss away at
Valencia.

“We did a lot of things well but I am not completely
happy because we also lost control of the game in the latter stages of the
first half,” said Setien.

Defeat at Mestalla allowed Real Madrid to pull three points
clear at the top of the league and put early pressure on Setien, who replaced
Ernesto Valverde as coach earlier this month.

His appointment will be judged on performances in the league
and Champions League this season but Barca have a rich recent history in the
Copa del Rey, which they have won in four of the last five years. 

They will be in Friday’s draw for the last eight but Sevilla
will not after they fell to a shock 3-1 defeat away at Segunda side Mirandes.
Real Madrid, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Granada, Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao
complete the list.

A home tie in the last 16 against La Liga’s bottom club
always looked a kind route back to winning ways for Setien’s side, whose next
four league fixtures now include Levante, Getafe and Eibar, all at home, as
well as a trip to Real Betis. 

Victories in those games would give Setien momentum but
performances will be important too given his arrival was as much about changing
Barcelona’s style as their results.

After a ponderous display against Valencia, they outclassed
Leganes, who pressed high from the start, despite early indications suggesting
this Barcelona team might struggle more against opponents that sit deep. 

Before the game, the Catalans’ club director Guillermo Amor
ruled out buying another striker before the end of the January transfer window
on Friday, meaning Griezmann is likely to step into the role of the injured
Luis Suarez down the middle. 

“There may be a risk of injuries but I have confidence in
the players I have,” said Setien. “It wasn’t to be and that’s
fine with me. We have to think about what we have and we are happy because in a
few weeks we will have Dembele back too.” 

Griezmann made his case by opening the scoring after four
minutes as Nelson Semedo cut back for the Frenchman to control and poke home
his 13th goal of the season. 

Another Griezmann strike was ruled out shortly after, only
for Lenglet to head in Messi’s corner at the near post to put Barcelona two up
after 27 minutes. 

Messi made it three after springing in behind just before
the hour and then Arthur Melo, on for Griezmann, added another, banging in
after both Ansu Fati and Messi had been denied. 

Leganes were finished but Messi had one more goal left in
him as he latched onto Ivan Rakitic’s pass and rounded Pichu Cuellar, before
finishing for his 19th of the season and third under a relieved Setien. 

Sevilla’s defeat to Mirandes, who sit 10th in the second
tier, was the biggest shock of the round. Matheus Barrozo scored twice before
Alvaro Rey put Mirandes out of sight. Sevilla’s Nolito scored a late
consolation.

 

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