Football

Barca, Alaves condemn fan violence

One seriously hurt after fans of Alaves and Barca clash with metal bars before game

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on target as Barcelona thrashed Alaves 6-0 in a dress rehearsal of the Copa del Rey final yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Alaves paid for their semi-final exertions against Celta Vigo in midweek as Barca temporarily went top of the table, before Real Madrid regained pole position after a hard-fought 3-1 win at rock-bottom Osasuna later to restore a one-point lead.

Barca's win, however, was overshadowed by violent clashes between 70 fans outside the ground before kick-off, which left one supporter in hospital with serious head injuries.

A video clip published on the website of Spanish daily Marca showed groups of supporters, some of whom were carrying metal bars, fighting outside a bar in the university area of the city of Vitoria, throwing chairs and tables.

Marca reported that 50 Alaves fans had attacked a group of 20 Barcelona supporters before the game. It said local police arrested a 19-year-old male.

Both sides condemned the violence.

"FC Barcelona regrets and condemns the incidents that occurred this afternoon in the city of Vitoria, before the match against Deportivo Alaves," read Barcelona's statement.

"The club strongly rejects any violent conduct and hopes that the authorities will be able to identify those responsible for these acts as soon as possible."

Alaves said they will consider necessary sanctions if their season-ticket holders are among those implicated.

On the field, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique rotated his squad with six changes from Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid that secured their place in a fourth consecutive Copa del Rey final.

RUNNING RIOT

Despite a Champions League last-16 clash against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday morning, Messi, Suarez and Neymar all played and ran riot.

Barcelona had goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for not going behind early on with a brilliant one-on-one save from Theo Hernandez.

There was no doubt over the outcome once Barca went in front, thanks to a fine team move finished off by Suarez from close range eight minutes before half-time.

A goalkeeping error from Fernando Pachecho allowed Barca to double their lead three minutes later as he punched a loose ball off Suarez's head, allowing Neymar to tap the ball into an empty net.

The champions hit top form after the break with four more goals in eight minutes.

Barca's fine day was spoiled in the 85th minute when Aleix Vidal's right ankle gave way under an innocuous-looking challenge from Hernandez.

The right back underwent surgery in a Vitoria hospital and will be out for five months. - WIRE SERVICES

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