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Sandro celebrates one of his hat-trick of goals against Villanovense / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Even without the famous trident, Barça stormed into the last sixteen of the Copa del Rey with a 6-1 defeat of Villanovense. With an amazing twenty goals in their last four games, the Catalans’ stunning form continues, with their Division 2B rivals totally outclassed in every department in what was, nevertheless, an enthralling evening of football in front of a staggering crowd of 67,703 spectators.

Luis Enrique opted to start the game with a number of his more regular choices on the bench, with only Alves, Mascherano and Mathieu included from the eleven that started against Real Sociedad. The famous attacking threesome was replaced by Munir, Sandro and Aitor of Barça B, with another reserve team player, Samper, on the right hand side of the midfield.

Early opener

The game wasn’t four minutes old when Dani Alves tried what looked like an over-ambitious strike from well outside the box. But the ball slipped through the fingers of Villanovense stopper Fuentes and Barça were already a goal to the good before a large number of the supporters had even had time to settle into their seats.

Barcelona continued to overwhelm their opponent, and the inevitable second goal finally came in the 21st minute. Moments after a defensive mix-up had almost gifted a goal to Munir, Fuentes made a catastrophic error by tapping a clearance straight at the feet of Sandro, who slipped the ball into the back of the net with such ease that he appeared almost ashamed to celebrate.

There could have been an unexpected twist in the tale after 29 minutes when Juanfran, with an almost identical shot to Alves’ opener for Barça, found the net to get Villanovense back to within one goal. But while the 3,000 fans that had made the long trip from Extremadura were still leaping for joy, Barça re-established their two-goal cushion in the very next move. Aitor delivered a delightful through ball to Sandro, and the striker finished things off in clinical fashion. 3-1 to Barça and plenty going on to entertain the thousands of people from underprivileged groups attending the game for free thanks to the special Solidarity Day organised by the club.

Sandro completes hat-trick

The win was as good as settled five minutes into the second half. A fine cross from Mathieu was met in the air by Munir, who powered home an unstoppable header to get Barça’s fourth. And after 69 minutes a delightful piece of play from substitute Samper ended with the ball being deflected into the path of Sandro, who rifled home his third goal of the night to make it 5-1.

The rout continued after 76 minutes when Sandro capped a stellar performance with a tremendous back-heel to set things up perfectly for Munir, who coolly slotted home goal number six.

The outcome was inevitable but the intensity kept flowing right up until the final whistle, with Barça’s less regular players keen to show their worth and Villanovense eager to enjoy every second of a once in a lifetime experience. But there was only ever going to be one winner tonight, and after the setback of the 0-0 draw in Extremadura, round one of Barça’s Copa del Rey title defence eventually came to a very satisfying end indeed.

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