Hugo Diaz put Linares in front at Estadio de Linarejos before Dembele equalized in the second half and Ferran Jutgla scored the winner for Barcelona.
Barcelona’s return to Copa del Rey action wasn’t so great as Xavi’s side had to dig deep to get the better of Linares 2-1 on Thursday. Blaugrana’s performance was lower than expected, they were struggling in the first half of the match until Xavi introduced the senior stars to save the game, with Ousmane Dembele scoring the equalizer. Because of a poor first half show from the Catalan club, Gerard Pique, Dembele and Frenkie de Jong were introduced at half time. Hugo Diaz put Linares in front at Estadio de Linarejos before Dembele equalized in the second half and Ferran Jutgla scored the winner for Barcelona.
#ICYMI: We’re through to the last 16 of the Copa del Rey
HIGHLIGHTS ? pic.twitter.com/grtWi6WQlw
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 6, 2022
The opening goal for Linares was a culmination of errors from several Barca players. Jordi Alba and Riqui Puig allowed Fran Carnicer to deliver a ball for Diaz to get ahead of Oscar Minigueza, Eric Garcia and Ronald Araujo and slot home past Barca goalkeeper Neto. In response, at the other end, the clearest chance fell to Puig, who received a ball completely unmarked at the penalty spot, but his shot lacked any venom.
Shortly after, Jordi Alba received a pass but he didn’t anticipate the defense to give so much space and made a mess of it. Linares goalkeeper Brimah Razak had a fine first half to keep his team in the lead but then made a poor mistake to hand a gift to the visitors. Dembele’s unleashed a shot from outside the penalty area, and the keeper allowed the ball to squirm under him and into the net.
Meanwhile the second one was a brilliantly executed team goal by the Blaugrana youngsters. Nico Gonzalez sent a deep ball for Ferran Jutgla, who cut inside and drove the ball past Razak.
However, the bad news for Xavi is that two Barcelona players picked up injuries, as Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong had to be subbed off due to knocks. Both players underwent examination on Thursday and Araujo is believed to have fractured the second and third Metacarpal bones in the right hand.
De Jong has strained his left calf and he will be out on Saturday’s La Liga game away to Granada. Meanwhile, as many as ten players have tested positive for COVID-19, but Pedri, Memphis Depay and Ansu Fati could return to action.
After the game, Xavi took time to congratulate Linares boss Gonzalez. Gonzalez told Diario AS: “he is a spectacular guy, a phenomenon, super respectful.
“He has given us congratulations for our work. He has told me that he did not expect to have a throw evening.
“I am proud that someone like that has congratulated us.”
The win means Barcelona are through to the round of 16 stage of Copa del Rey as they look to defend the title.