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Copa del Rey soccer: Lionel Messi scores twice in Barcelona win

Copa del Rey soccer: Lionel Messi scores twice in Barcelona win
Barcelona striker Lionel Messi (R) increased his Copa del Rey scoring total to two goals after scoring twice in a round of 16 win against Leganes Thursday in Barcelona. Photo by Alejandro Garcia/UPI

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi scored two second-half goals in Barcelona's 5-0 win against Leganes, helping to lift his Spanish soccer squad into the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.

Messi scored in the 59th minute and 89th minute of the lopsided affair Thursday at Camp Nou in Barcelona.

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Antoine Griezmann drew first blood in the fourth minute of the round of 16 matchup. Messi played a through ball into the box for right back Nelson Semendo at the start of the play. The Barcelona defender then passed back to Griezmann, who brought the ball in before using his second touch to blast a shot through a defender's legs and into the left side of the net.

Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet doubled the lead in the 27th minute after Messi sent a corner kick in from the right side. The ball curved toward the near post, before Lenglet jumped and used his head to flick a shot into the far-post netting, beating Leganes keeper Ivan Cuellar for a second time.

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Barcelona took the 2-0 lead into the half before Messi added some insurance in the 59th minute. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong played a long pass ahead for Messi during that exchange, leading the Barcelona star up the right flank. Messi weaved between several defenders before ripping a shot off Leganes defender Kevin Rodrigues and into the net.

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Teen phenom Ansu Fati recovered a loose ball in the Leganes box to spark Barcelona's fourth scoring sequence. Fati fired a shot, but it was blocked by Cuellar and the ball deflected out to Messi, who then had his shot denied by Leganes center back Chidozie Awaziem. The ball then deflected out to Arthur Melo, who ripped in a shot from point-blank range in the 77th minute.

Messi used some crafty footwork for his second goal, which came after Ivan Rakitic played a pass ahead for the Barcelona star and found Messi in the box. Messi used his first touch to tap the ball away from a diving Cuellar and jumped over the downed Leganes keeper before using his second touch to rip a shot into the top part of the net.

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"It's easier when you score a goal early in the game, but I think we improved a lot in our positioning," de Jong told FCBarcelona.com. "I think this was the biggest improvement."

Barcelona next faces Levante in La Liga play at 3 p.m. EST Sunday at Camp Nou. They face Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals Tuesday at San Mames in Bilbao, Spain.

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