A brace from Ousmane Dembele and a goal from Lionel Messi powered Barcelona into the next round of the Copa del Rey with a 3-0 win over Levante in their round of 16 second leg on Thursday night at the Camp Nou in Barcelona.
While on the pitch Barcelona secured a spot in the quarterfinals thanks to a 4-2 edge on aggregate, things could probably change should the Spanish soccer Federation rule that Chumi was ineligible to play the first leg, thus resulting in Barcelona forfeiting the tie.
As for the match itself, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde went with an almost full-strength starting XI with the notable absences being Luis Suarez up top, Sergio Busquets in the middle and Jeison Murillo at centre-back rather than Gerard Pique.
It took a bit of time but Barcelona started getting some smart cracks at goal, particularly a Messi probability that forced Levante goalkeeper Aitor into a reaction save that drew an exchange of smiles between the 2 competitors. That was followed by an intricate build-up that ended with Arturo Vidal bouncing a header over goal.
Yet it was a dose of excellent fortune that got Barcelona their 1st goal which swung the tie back in their favour. Messi won a ball deep in the Levante half and fed Dembele but before the Frenchman could get off a shot Cabaco came sliding in to clear, only to hit it off the leg of Dembele and the ball spun over the outstretched fingers of Aitor and into goal for a 1-0 Barcelona lead.
A minute later another deflection would fall Barcelona's this way. Again, it started with a Messi pass for Dembele, but this point the Frenchman rounded Aitor to shoot. The Levante stopper scampered back to try to save, but instead unintentionally touched it into his net to make it 2-0 to Barcelona.
Messi Dembele and Coutinho all had open looks before the break to extend the lead to 3 and really put Levante on the ropes however neither of them might end, leaving the guests with hope of levelling the tie in the second half.
But those hopes were quickly vanquished once the re-start and it came off the trusted boot of Messi, who collected an exquisite Semedo cross from the correct and deposited his shot past Aitor for a 3-0 advantage, all but putting the tie on ice for the Catalonians.
Not wanting to risk any late surprises, Valverde brought on Suarez for Coutinho to land a final blow, however the Uruguayan was unable to feature his name to the scoresheet despite having a few possibilities.
Nevertheless it was pretty straightforward effort from Barcelona, who will now await the final decision of the Spanish football Federation and hope their name will still be on the list for the quarterfinal draw.
3.- Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo, Lenglet, Murillo, Jordi Alba (Sergi Roberto, min. 74); Rakitic, Vidal, Arthur; Dembele (Denis Suarez, min. 77), Messi, Coutinho (Suarez, min. 63)
.- Levante: Aitor; Coke, Cabaco, Postigo (Jason, min. 70), Rober Pier, Simon; campana (Doukoure, min. 68), Prcic, Bardhi; mayoral (Dwamena, min. 60), Boateng
Goals: 1-0, min. 30: Dembele; 2-0, min. 31: Dembele; 3-0, min. 54: Messi
Referee Sanchez Martinez (Murcian) Yellow Cards: Postigo (Min. 39) for Levante, Rakitic (Min. 44) for Barcelona, Murillo (45+1) for Barcelona, Cabaco (Min. 75) for Levante, Prcic (Min. 84) for Levante
Red cards: None
Stadium: Camp Nou