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Essien takes pride in Salah's achievement for Africa


Villa brace seals Copa win for Barca

David Villa secured Barcelona's passage into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, with the striker scoring two goals as the Catalan giants completed a 6-1 aggregate win over Deportivo Alaves.

In his first full game since returning from injury, Villa netted a cracking free kick and scored a second just minutes later to boost his chances of selection for this weekend's La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao.

Alaves began the match with greater intensity, hoping to reverse a 3-0 first leg deficit and they were rewarded for their pressure when Borja Viguera opened the scoring after 17 minutes.

But Adriano equalised for Barca after Thiago put him through for a tidy finish. It took Villa just 11 minutes after the break to make his mark and the striker made it memorable with a curling free kick from the edge of the box giving Alaves goalkeeper Sergio Herrera no chance.

The Spaniard then doubled his tally and sealed the 3-1 win, taking a much easier chance after Tello navigated through the Alaves defence to provide the assist.

Barca boss Tito Vilanova admitted that he was forced into changes after Alaves' early raids on goal.

"At first they surprised us by how they played," Vilanova said. "We had to make a few adjustments in the first half. Alaves' tactical change forced me to use Thiago in a position he's not used to, but he played at a very high level.

"Despite what people may think, these matches are never easy especially when the match is on a day that isn't too helpful. I want to thank all the fans that came to the Camp Nou tonight."

Villa's double took his career tally to 301 goals and Vilanova believes he is almost back to his best form.

"Villa scored two goals and he was able to play the entire 90 minutes," Vilanova said. "He's doing better each day. We're all very pleased with him. His injury was very complicated and he worked hard throughout the summer.

"He's a player that can score and it's important to us that he's part of the team. It's always good to have players that can take free kicks. They earn you valuable points by year's end."

Barcelona will face second division side Cordoba in the round of 16.

Elsewhere, Raul Garcia gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over Jaen to complete their 4-0 aggregate rout and Getafe progressed 4-0 on aggregate after a goalless draw with Ponferradina. Levante recovered from their 1-0 first leg loss against Melilla, with a 4-1 win sending them through to the last 16.

Valencia cruised past Llagostera, putting three goals past the visitors to round off a 5-1 aggregate win and Sevilla defeated Espanyol 3-0 to comfortably progress.


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