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Barcelona bounce back to beat Linares and avoid Cup shock

Xavi's team responded after Hugo Díaz headed Linares ahead in the first half. Dembélé and Jutglà found the net after the break to put Barça into the Last 16.

Barcelona bounce back to beat Linares and avoid Cup shock

Cup holders Barcelona survived an early scare as they fought back to secure a 1-2 win at third-tier side Linares Deportivo in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday that sent them into the Round of 16.

Barça made the trip south to Andalucia missing several players due to Covid-19 and injuries, but coach Xavi Hernández still decided to rest some key names for the last-32 tie and they fell behind in the 19th minute when Hugo Díaz headed in a Carnicer cross to the delight of the home crowd.

Second half response

Xavi responded by bringing on Frenkie de Jong, Gerard Piqué and Ousmane Dembélé for the second half, with the French winger equalising with a low long shot that keeper Brimah Razak failed to stop. A few minutes later, young academy striker Ferran Jutglà scored the winner with a cross-shot from the corner of the box after a counter-attack.

"I'm very happy to help the team, and to do whatever the coach asks me to do," goal scorer Jutglà told reporters afterwards. "They came out very strong, perhaps a little stronger than we did."

Barça joined Espanyol, Real Sociedad, Valencia, Betis, Rayo Vallecano, Real Madrid, Mallorca and third-tier Atlético Baleares, who eliminated LaLiga side Celta Vigo with a 2-1 win, as the first clubs to advance into the last-16. Atlético Madrid host Rayo Majadahonda in the last of seven ties to be decided on Thursday.

It was yet another unconvincing display from Barcelona, who are fifth in the LaLiga standings, 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid. Linares were on top even after Barça made their substitutions for much of the second half and twice hit the bar. They also had a goal disallowed by the referee for a narrow offside that could not be checked because Linares's small stadium could not support the installation of VAR.

Another Barça debut for Dani Alves
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Another Barça debut for Dani AlvesGORKA LEIZADIARIO AS

Dani Alves' second debut for Barcelona

The big news going into the game was Dani Alves's first appearance following his return to the club after six years. The 38-year-old right back, who started the game as a winger, became the oldest player to feature for Barcelona in a competitive match, surpassing former goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto by 54 days.