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Lionel Messi nets brace in Barcelona win, Negredo hat trick fires Valencia

ESPN FC's Craig Burley says that Barcelona were in excellent form in their 4-1 Copa del Rey win against Espanyol.

Lionel Messi scored twice in the first half and picked up two assists in the second, as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 win against Espanyol in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last 16 tie.

Espanyol, who drew 0-0 with Barca on the weekend, opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Felipe Caicedo fired home from the centre of the penalty area from a Marco Asensio assist. 

Messi quickly levelled for the hosts in the 13th minute, finishing from 12 yards out after being played through by Andres Iniesta. The Argentine put Barca in front just ahead of half-time, converting a free kick from outside the Espanyol box.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi was back to his best, scoring twice and assisting on two more as Barcelona beat Espanyol 4-1.

Gerard Pique doubled Barcelona's lead just as the second half began, as the defender poked home from close range thanks to an assist from Messi.

Espanyol finished the match with nine men, as both Pape Diop and Hernan Perez received their second yellows in the 72nd and 75th minutes, respectively.

Neymar added Barca's fourth in the 88th minute, getting on the tail end of a nice through ball from Messi.

The teams play their second leg on Jan. 13, as Barca make the cross-town trip to Espanyol.

Rayo Vallecano
Rayo Vallecano players celebrate after scoring the opener in their 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid will come away disappointed after a 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano to open their round of 16 tie.

Nacho Martinez blasted one past Miguel Angel Moya in the 35th minute to give the hosts the lead going into the break.

With Atleti struggling to find the equaliser, Diego Simeone brought Saul Niguez on for Oliver in the 57th minute.

The manager's move paid off just over 10 minutes later, as Luciano Vietto found Niguez in the centre of the penalty area and the Spaniard slotted home to the bottom right corner of Juan Carlos' net.

Alvaro Negredo was on form in the cup.

A hat trick from Alvaro Negredo gave Valencia coach Gary Neville his second win for the club, 4-0 against Granada.

Negredo scored in the eighth minute before Rodrigo netted to make it 2-0 before half-time. Negredo then bagged two penalties in the second half to make it a comfortable win in the first leg.

Sevilla eased to a 2-0 win away to Real Betis with Grzegorz Krychowiak and Michael Krohn-Dehli providing first-half goals.

Sergio Rico had an easy day in the Sevilla goal on his way to a clean sheet. None of Real Betis' nine shots were on frame.

Athletic Bilbao scored three times in the second half to erase a two-goal deficit and beat Villarreal 3-2 in the first leg.

Villarreal scored twice on counterattacks, finished off by Leo Baptistao and Samuel Garcia, to build a half-time lead at Bilbao's San Mames Stadium. But Benat Etxebarria set up Inaki Williams to pull one back in the 53rd, before striker Aritz Aduriz soon leveled the score in the 67th.

Defender Aymeric Laporte completed the comeback when he slid to stab home Etxebarria's free kick in the 81st.

Alex Ortiz scored in the first half for second-tier Mirandes as they held Deportivo La Coruna.

Deportivo only equalised in the 75th minute through Alberto Lopo, with the tie balanced evenly before the next leg.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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