Barcelona began the defence of their Copa del Rey crown with a comfortable away win over Cultural Leonesa in their fourth round, first leg meeting in Leon thanks to a double from Pedro.
The game never looked in any doubt as the under strength Barca side produced a composed, professional performance which will give coach Pep Guardiola the opportunity to give his youngsters another run out in the return leg at Camp Nou on November 10.
Guardiola opted for a mixture of youth and experience with Ivan Benitez starting alongside Rafael Marquez, Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Maxwell at the back while Jeffren Suarez and Pedro started up top with Bojan Krkic, who continues his return from injury.
The experimental side found it difficult to penetrate the well organised Leonesa defence for large periods of the opening half but midway through the half could have found the opening when Pedro played Sergi Busquets through on goal but Saizar came off his line swiftly to deny the midfielder and gathered at the second attempt.
Although Barca failed to produce the slick football we are used to seeing from the first eleven they still looked pretty comfortable and the breakthrough came five minutes before the interval.
A run at the defence from Bojan was halted at the edge of the box but from the challenge the ball fell to Pedro who smashed it past Saizar into the roof of the net.
Barca were composed in the opening half but Jeffren Suarez, who started as a reluctant full-back, was not enjoying his role and Eric Abidal was introduced for Gai Assulin after almost an hour, allowing Jeffren to move to the wing.
Moments later Jeffren was instrumental in the second goal as Pedro bagged his second giving Barca the inevitable two goal cushion. The 22-year-old striker was alert, reacting quickest to Jeffren's through ball to fire across goal into the corner of the net to put the tie beyond doubt.
Barcelona continued to move the ball around with some accurate passing movement which saw their hosts tire somewhat in the closing fifteen minutes, but they couldn't find the killer final ball to add to their two goal tally.
The Blaugrana maintained their dominance of possession until the end to see out a comfortable two goal victory and Guardiola will be pleased to come through this tie with a comfortable victory after resting a number of first team stars. Barca can now redirect their attention to the Primera Liga Saturday's testing trip to Pamplona to take on Osasuna on Saturday.
Paul Madden, Goal.com