Messi & Alba take down Celta

Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba put on a first-half show as Barcelona thrashed Celta Vigo 5-0 on Thursday to reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Alba set up both of Messi's goals and was returned the favour for a finish of his own, before Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic rounded off the rout, in what was arguably Barca's best team performance of the season.

Javier Mascherano replaced Thomas Vermaelen in the centre of defence, on the same day that he had reportedly agreed a move to China, while Sergio Busquets returned from a suspension and Ousmane Dembele dropped to the substitutes' bench.

Celta boss Juan Carlos Unzue, had drawn both of their previous meetings with the Blaugrana – where he assisted Luis Enrique between 2014 and 2017 – including the first leg against his former employers, which ended 1-1.

However, the Galicians were comprehensively put to the sword as Messi needed just 13 minutes to fire in Alba's cross, before playing a one-two with the former Valencia defender and rifling home first time moments later.

The pair have developed a telepathic understanding this season, and the No 10 soon split the Galicians' defence with a perfectly-weighted through ball for Alba, who slid a finish past Sergio Alvarez at his near post.

It then took Luis Suarez just two minutes to score Barca's fourth, netting from a Pione Sisto gift. The Uruguayan followed up with two offside efforts, one of which was incorrectly flagged as he appeared level.

Ernesto Valverde could afford to take off Messi and Andres Iniesta in the second half, but Celta got no closer to a reprieve as Dembele caused their defence all sorts of problems with his direct running and quick feet after he replaced the Argentine.

With the match having long been decided, Ivan Rakitic calmly headed a cross past Sergio for the hosts' fifth and final goal of the evening, keeping alive their chances of a fourth straight Copa.

Barcelona 5-0 Celta Vigo (6-1 agg.)

Messi 13, 15, Alba 28, Suarez 31, Rakitic 87

Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo, Pique (Vermaelen 46), Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta (Arnaiz 63); Gomes, Messi (Dembele 59), Suarez

Celta Vigo: Sergio; Mallo, Sergi Gomez, Fontas, Jonny; Wass (Radoja 46), Lobotka, Jozabed; Aspas, Maxi (Aspas 46), Sisto (Brais 57)

Referee: Hernandez Hernandez