Madrid, Barcelona struggle to beat 3rd-tier rivals in Copa

National Sports

BARCELONA, Spain (AP)Real Madrid and Barcelona started their Copa del Rey campaigns with surprisingly hard-fought wins over lower-tier teams on Wednesday, while third-division Atletico Baleares eliminated a second topflight side by beating Celta Vigo 2-1.

Madrid needed two late goals to beat Alcoyano 3-1, which one year before had eliminated the powerhouse in the same round of 32. Earlier, Barcelona had to come from behind to beat third-tier Linares Deportivo 2-1.

Defender Eder Militao put Madrid ahead in front of 4,800 fans at El Collao Stadium. But the hosts created scoring chances throughout and pulled level in the 66th minute when Dani Vega cut back to avoid both Casemiro and Militao before curling home.

Marco Asensio put Madrid back in charge in the 76th when his shot hit a defender, leaving Alcoyano goalkeeper Jose Figueras no chance to save. An own goal by Figueras ensured the win two minutes later.


Barcelona forwards Ousmane Dembele and Ferran Jutgla scored to complete the team’s comeback against Linares.

Dembele went on at halftime and canceled out Hugo Diaz’s 19th-minute goal for Linares with a strike from outside the area to level in the 63rd.

Jutgla netted the winner six minutes later to save Barcelona from an embarrassing exit from the cup in southern Spain.

Dani Alves played his first match since returning to Barcelona. The 38-year-old Brazil right back played for Barcelona from 2008 to 2016, helping it win 23 titles including three Champions League trophies.

”This is a very special day for me, to return to this team, and once again live these moments of the Copa. It was magical,” Alves said.


Baleares, which had already stunned Getafe 5-0 in the previous round, got two goals from Manel Martinez to upset Celta.

Martinez gave the club from the Mediterranean island of Mallorca the lead in the 17th with a header from a quickly taken corner kick.

Substitute Brais Mendez pulled Celta level in the 67th, only for Martinez to head in a cross for the 76th-minute winner.


Denis Cheryshev scored in stoppage time to give Valencia a 2-1 win at second-division side Cartagena.

Mikel Oyarzabal scored twice to give Real Sociedad a 3-2 win at Leganes, while Real Betis beat Valladolid 3-0 and Mallorca rallied to beat Eibar 2-1.

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