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Copa del Rey

  • January 23, 2014
  • • 05:00
  • • Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia
  • Referee: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández
  • • Attendance: 18852
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Levante 1-4 Barcelona: Tello hat-trick gives Catalans commanding lead

Levante 1-4 Barcelona: Tello hat-trick gives Catalans commanding lead

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Lionel Messi set up all three of the winger's goals as Gerardo Martino's men overcame a sluggish start to put themselves in the driving seat in this Copa del Rey quarter-final

Barcelona came from behind to thump Levante and put themselves firmly in control of the Copa del Rey quarter-final tie with a 4-1 first-leg victory.

After a sluggish start and falling a goal behind courtesy of Nabil El Zhar's effort, which once again exposed Barca's defensive frailties, the visitors turned on the style.

Cristian Tello scored a hat-trick and, although Messi did not get on the scoresheet in his 400th appearance for the club, he would have been more than delighted with the three assists he laid on for the Spaniard.

However, while Barca finished on top they were submissive to a bright start from the hosts, who were clearly buoyed by their 1-1 draw against Gerardo Martino's men on Sunday.

Both sides made a whole host of changes from that match and it was Levante who took the game to Barca in the early stages.

However, the visitors did nearly score with their first attempt on goal as Pedro cut inside from the right and curled a delightful effort that cannoned off the post, before Loukas Vyntra had to be alert moments later to snuff out a dangerous ball across goal from the lively Tello.

The Catalans continued to press and Messi played a delicate ball in behind the Levante defence, finding the run of Adriano, but the Brazilian's looping effort fell narrowly wide.

But it was Levante who took the lead and deservedly so. Martino's men's defensive frailties from set-pieces were exposed once again as Carles Puyol failed to get enough purchase on his headed clearance, allowing El Zhar to power a shot towards goal; Jose Pinto reacted well but the winger followed up his own effort to prod home.

Messi attempted to restore parity as Dani Alves fed him the ball and the Argentine tried to shape an effort around a cluster of bodies, but his shot did not test Javi Jimenez.

After the break, the Liga champions equalised following some calamitous defending from the hosts. Messi delivered a ball over the top, finding Tello in space and his weak shot squirmed loose of Jimenez's grasp, with Vyntra's attempted clearance cannoning in off Juanfran for a comical own goal.

It became worse for the hosts as another incisive pass from Messi found Tello as the hosts struggled to cope with the Spaniard's blistering pace and he slipped the ball past Jimenez to turn the game completely on its head.

Messi came close with an effort from just inside the box, while Xavi forced a reflex save from the Levante shot stopper, but it was Tello who grabbed the third goal. Assisted by Messi, he fired past Jimenez, who should have done better as the ball squirmed underneath him.

Jimenez went some way towards making amends by making a stunning save to deny Tello's long-range effort inside the final 10 minutes.

But the winger was not to be denied his hat-trick. Messi found Tello with a delightful dink over the top, which exposed the vulnerability of the Levante defence again. The Spaniard, full of confidence, then took a touch before firing a volley emphatically past Jimenez to complete a remarkable comeback.

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