BARCA HELD, REAL ROMP
BARCELONA were held 1-1 by lowly Hercules in their King’s Cup last 32 first-leg match yesterday while Mariano scored a hattrick as Real Madrid romped to a 6-1 second-leg victory over third-tier Cultural Leonesa and a 13-2 aggregate triumph.
Barca’s Carles Alena struck a sublime effort in the 58th minute to cancel out David Mainz’s close-range opener six minutes earlier as the cup holders came from behind but had to accept a draw in a match they dominated.
The Spanish champions’ struggles in La Liga followed them to Segunda B side Hercules as a much-changed side made it three domestic games without a win after a disjointed performance.
“In terms of the intensity, I didn’t see relaxed players,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique told reporters. “We wanted to win.
“I’m not happy, but we’ve tried to create problems for a team that has changed its system to have five players in defence.”
Real Madrid, playing a leg earlier than everyone else ahead of their Club World Cup campaign, held a 7-1 lead after the first game and made short shrift of their opponents at the Bernabeu, opening the scoring after 23 seconds through Dominican forward Mariano.
James Rodriguez added a second in the 23rd minute before Mariano, on his debut, doubled his tally.
The visitors pulled one back through Yerey Gonzalez just before the break, but Real dominated the second half, Zidane’s son Enzo marking his debut with a goal and Mariano rounding off his hattrick with a header.
“We’re ready for what’s going to be a great game and we’ll start preparing tomorrow,” Zidane said, looking ahead to this weekend’s Clasico. “Tonight we’ll rest.”