PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Leo Messi just can’t stop amazing. In his first cup game of the season, the Argentinian supplied both goals for FC Barcelona in Cordoba. It was a wonderful all-round performance for FCB at the Nuevo Arcángel in the Copa del Rey round of 16, and leaves them on perfect track for a place in the last eight, although they will still have to make sure of qualification when the sides meet again at the Camp Nou on January 10.

Early onslaught survived

Cordoba put everything they had into the match and came close to scoring twice in the first five minutes. But Barça soon responded. Thiago slammed a shot onto the woodwork, and in the same move Pedro, Villa and Messi combined brilliantly to produce the first goal of the evening at the Nuevo Arcángel.

The home side had a goal disallowed for offside on the half hour, but other than that, Barcelona were barely troubled in what remained of the first 45 minutes. They managed to dictate the pace of the game, enjoyed huge chunks of possession and left Pinto with very little to do.

Messi again

The second half got off to an even more leisurely start. Barça never looked troubled at the back and could have stretched their lead through Pedro on several occasions. Messi also let one clear-cut opportunity go begging, but made no mistake the second time, pouncing on an assist from Alexis on the right to make it 2-0. And that took Leo Messi’s total for 2012 up to a staggering 88.

Barça spent most of the remainder of the match holding onto possession in midfield, gradually wearing down a Cordoba side that had lost almost all of its early freshness. There was no further scoring, but the two goal lead leaves the Catalans perfectly poised for a quarter finals berth.