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FC Barcelona cruised into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday after a 7-0 win (8-1 on aggregate) over Hércules at the Camp Nou.
Barça sent the fans home happy in the final game of 2016 with goals galore including a long-awaited first official strike for the club from Paco Alcácer and a second hat-trick of the season for Arda Turan.
Following the 1-1 draw in Alicante at the end of last month, Barça were not taking their opponents lightly and their attacking purpose right from the off proved it.
After just four minutes, Lucas Digne found himself in an advanced position, bringing down an Ivan Rakitic cross nicely but fired well over with his weaker right foot.
Hércules almost caught Barça off guard midway through the half as the pacey Chechu Flores was released in behind the defence but Javier Mascherano was quick enough to make up the ground and pulled off a last ditched tackle to avert the danger.
One of the best moments of the half came on 31 minutes when Denis Suárez picked up the ball from just inside his half before embarking on a fine solo run down the left-hand side, cutting onto his right foot before striking low and hard, but only finding the side netting.
The breakthrough eventually came on 37 minutes, when Arda picked out Rafinha on the edge of the box and the Brazilian’s scuffed effort turned into a perfect assist for Digne who again found himself in a great position and this time made no mistake with favoured left foot.
Rafinha was also involved in the second which came shortly after; with an option either side of him, he picked out Arda who was hacked down and the referee pointed to the spot. With none of the front three on the field, the responsibility was passed to Ivan Rakitic, who side-footed the ball home under the keeper for 2-0 just before the break.
The second half started as the first ended – Arda was again involved as a similar dribble that led to the penalty ended in the Turk laying the ball off for Rafinha whose powerful drive from the edge of the box flew beyond the keeper for 3-0.
Barça were in no mood to settle for what they had and the fourth goal came minutes later. A move that started from goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen ended with a beauty of a cross from Aleix Vidal which Arda attacked and guided into the corner of the net.
On 73 minutes came the biggest cheer of the night as Alcácer finally scored his first goal for the club after plenty of perseverance. Rafinha’s attempted low cross flicked up off the defender and fell kindly into the path of the Spanish striker who headed in from close range to end his goal drought.
Unfortunately for Hércules there was still time for more. On 86 minutes, another fine cross from Vidal found Alcácer unmarked and though his header was well saved, the rebound fell for Arda who could make no mistake from close range.
Just a few minutes later, on the corner of the penalty area, Arda curled a fabulous strike into the top corner to earn his second hat-trick of the season following the one he scored against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Champions League.Barça will learn of their last 16 opponent during this Friday’s draw: the first leg will take place on 4 January and the return game one week later on the 11th.
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