Copa del Rey: Barca whitewash Hercules without MSNShare:
Arda Turan scored a hat trick as a Barcelona side without their popular trident (MSN) booked their spot in the 2016/17 Copa del Rey round of 16 on Wednesday with a convincing 7-0 thrashing of lower division side Hercules.
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.
Luis Enrique named a strictly-senior line-up, albeit without MSN and their famed La Masia quintet of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and newest member Sergi Roberto.
Lucas Digne and Denis Suarez had early warning shots, while Arda Turan’s low cross needed to be cleared off Ivan Buigues’ line.
Nonetheless, the Turk’s next wing delivery was flicked on by Rafinha to Lucas Digne, who fired past Buigues for his first-ever Barca goal.
The influential Arda’s ankles were then clipped in the box, leaving Ivan Rakitic to drill the penalty into the Hercules goalkeeper’s bottom-right.
Having earned the privilege to come back out for the second half with no pressure, Barca took full advantage. Arda was again the catalyst as he skipped past his opponent before laying off Rafinha, who drove home goal No 3.
It was soon Aleix Vidal’s turn to play provided, and the right-back demonstrated scope for a telepathic understanding with Arda as his pinpoint cross was headed in by the former Atletico Madrid ace.
Alcacer, meanwhile, was given a huge show of faith by Enrique, who did not name another striker on the substitutes’ bench.
Without a Barca goal in his first 11 appearances, it looked like being another frustrating evening for the ex-Valencia forward when he threw himself onto the end of a low cross from the left but ended up missing it by a fraction.
However, Alcacer’s persistence paid off as he eventually headed home Rafinha’s deflected cross, despite seeming offside.
The Spaniard was then denied a second after some fantastic Denis Suarez footwork near the byline, although Hercules’ Jose Manuel Rojas proceeded to head a corner just over.
Back at the other end, Vidal’s peach of a cross was met by the reborn Alcacer, but he was somehow kept out by Buigues, Arda on hand to blast home the rebound.
Lightning struck twice when Alcacer’s shot was pushed away and followed up by Arda bending an unstoppable effort past the glovesman with the last kick at Camp Nou.
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