Lionel Messi struck a spectacular free kick, scored another goal and set up two more in a 4-1 victory for Barcelona over nine-man city rivals Espanyol in the first leg of their King’s Cup last-16 clash on Wednesday.
The Argentine forward slotted home after 13 minutes following Felipe Caicedo’s opener for Espanyol from a counter-attack and he struck a 30-yard free kick before halftime that went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Espanyol held Barca to a 0-0 draw at home last Saturday in La Liga but the Cup holders were looked more threatening.
Messi provided assists for Gerard Pique and Neymar in the second half while in a feisty game there were also red cards for Espanyol’s Hernan Perez and Papakouli Diop.
La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid play a derby away to Rayo Vallecano later on Wednesday.
Striker Alvaro Negredo scored a hat-trick, including two second-half penalties, as Valencia thrashed Granada 4-0.
Negredo has been given a new lease of life under coach Gary Neville and the win was a confidence boost for Valencia who have yet to pick up a victory in La Liga under the former Manchester United and England player.
He robbed the ball from Diego Mainz and stroked it into the corner past keeper Ivan Kelava after seven minutes.
Santi Mina laid the second on a plate for Rodrigo Moreno and Mina was fouled by Uche Agbo with Negredo scoring the subsequent penalty after 62 minutes.
Negredo, the former Manchester City player who has had an appendicitis and was frozen out by former coach Nuno Espirito Santo, scored his third from the spot in the 83rd after he had been fouled by Matheus Doria.
Second-half goals from Inaki Williams, Aritz Aduriz and Aymeric Laporte helped Athletic Bilbao come from behind to beat high-flying Villarreal 3-2.
Confident Villarreal had won their last five matches and went ahead through Leo Baptistao and Samu Garcia but Bilbao came back fighting after the break.
Baptistao slotted home clinically following a good move after 16 minutes and Samu Castillejo sent a defence-splitting pass for Garcia, who rounded keeper Iago Herrerin and knocked the ball into an empty net.
Williams led the comeback with a 53rd-minute strike and found Aduriz who scored from the centre of the penalty area.
Laporte completed the turnaround by converting a Benat free kick from a tight angle after 80 minutes.
Villarreal’s Mario Gaspar was sent off with three minutes left.