Football

Enrique never doubted Paco's quality

Arda Turan grabbed the headlines with a hat-trick, but it was striker Paco Alcacer whom Luis Enrique lavished special praise on.

The 30-million-euro (S$45m) summer transfer from Valencia scored his first official goal for Barcelona in the 73rd minute in the 7-0 drubbing of third-tier Hercules in the second leg of the Copa del Rey last-32 tie at the Nou Camp yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Barca won 8-1 on aggregate.

The 23-year-old Spaniard did score in last week's win over Al-Ahli in Qatar, but it was a friendly.

Since joining the Catalan giants, Alcacer has struggled for game time owing to the scintillating form of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

But, with the trio rested, he made his mark after going goalless in 10 appearances before the Copa del Rey tie.

ALCACER LIBERATED

"I have not felt bad for him because these things happen in football, although we were all looking forward to his first goal," Enrique said.

"We know him and he does not give us any doubts. I am content with the performance of Paco and all the other players."

Alcacer admitted that he felt liberated, saying that he "needed" the goal.

"I haven't suffered," he said.

"I haven't gone through a bad time, but I needed this goal. It's my first wearing this shirt and it means a lot to me. It had been a long time since I'd scored and it was important to get my first.

"If you work well and then you score, you feel liberated."

Meanwhile, Luciano Vietto and Wissam Ben Yedder scored three goals each as last year's beaten finalists Sevilla pummelled fourth-tier Formentera 9-1 in Andalusia, completing a 14-2 victory over the two legs.

Rodrigo netted both goals for Valencia in a 2-1 win over Leganes in an all-La Liga affair, with the former progressing 5-2 on aggregate.

Eibar, Deportivo La Coruna and Osasuna also advanced to the next round. - WIRE SERVICES

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