Barcelona completed their comfortable progression into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, with a 3-0 victory over Cartagena at the Camp Nou giving them a 7-1 victory on aggregate. After their emphatic victory in the first leg, the return was always going to be a mere formality against the side from Segunda Division B. That’s exactly how it proved, with Pedro, an own goal from Sanchez Martinez Mariano and a Neymar header securing the win.
After back-to-back defeats, Barcelona have responded with three-straight wins and, against Getafe on Sunday, will now be looking to ensure they end the year where they have been throughout: at the top of La Liga.
Despite the tie being, in theory, already over, Tata Martino selected a fairly strong lineup, featuring Neymar, Cesc Fabregas and Carles Puyol. It took them 31 minutes to get off the mark against the team from Spain’s third tier.
Martin Montoya, whose play in advanced areas was a major weakness in the narrow win over Villarreal on Saturday, was somewhat fortunate on this occasion that his cross beat a Cartagena defender at the near-post to allow Pedro to direct the ball into the net.
The lead was doubled midway through the second half, with Neymar, who has been in fine form of late, asserting his influence. The Brazilian’s pass sent Cristian Tello away down the left of the box and the winger’s cross was diverted past his own goalkeeper at the near post by Mariano.
And Neymar got himself on the score-sheet with his sixth goal in his last three matches to complete the scoring two minutes from the end. A typically delightful run from Andres Iniesta was followed by a fine dinked cross into the middle from which Neymar headed past George Savu in the Cartagena goal.