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Hércules CF 1-1 FC Barcelona- Alena stars on a disappointing night.


Luis Enrique's side were not at their best at Estadio José Rico Pérez and had Carles Alena to thank for an equalising goal that at least allowed them to avoid defeat on wednessday evening.


Carles Alena rescued  below- par Barcelona as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Hércules CF in the copa del Rey round of 32 on Wednesday evening.


The youngster scored his 1st ever goal for Barcelona just before the hour mark to cancel out David Mainz's 52nd minute goal, but a largely poor performance from the champions meant their hope of securing a morale-boosting win ahead of Saturday’s Clásico faded away.


As was the case against Real Sociedad in the previous game, it took Barcelona until the second half to register a goal against their opponents at  Estadio José Rico Pérez .


Luis Tevenet's side weren’t quite as attack minded as Eusebio Sacristán side last weekend, but they were still difficult to break down.
The final score was the same too and have now won only two of their last six in all competitions.

Luis Enrique made 11 changes with one eye on Saturday's El Clasico and watched his side endure a significantly more testing evening than he would have expected.

Most notably he handed starts to Cillessen, Vidal,Umtiti, Borja,Digne,Rafinha,Arda,Denis,Carbonell,Alena, Alcacer, and threw on Gomes,Nili,Cardona. Each of them repaid their manager in spades.

From the first moment it was obvious this was going to be a tough game. chances fell to both teams, but arguably Hercules had the better of them. The home side clearly had a game plan and they executed their managers orders to the letter.

The Blaugranes were finding it difficult to find their rhythm and although they dominated early possession, couldn't build up the kind of momentum they've shown to such effect in the other games.Credit Hercules, who would have gone in at half time more than satisfied with their showing.

Hercules were perfectly content to sit back and defend and make Barcelona try to create opportunities, knowing that a Barcelona side without Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar often struggle under such circumstances.

Barca's usual slick passing and movement deserted them  in the first half and were stunned when David Mainz bundled home for the third-tier hosts shortly after the break.

 The Catalans needed a stunning goal from 18-year-old Alena to get back into the game – but they failed to push on to find a winning goal.

A floated free-kick found André Gomes in space but the Portuguese midfielder was unable to generate power on the header, and so was comfortably collected by Ivan Buiges.
 

Young Marc Cardona, another youngster making his debut after coming off the bench, almost made an instant impact after volleyed goalwards with almost his first touch but the strike was well saved by the keeper.

Hércules held firm until the very end to earn a memorable point as Barça simply could not find another way past the resilient hosts.

Barça will be looking for a more commanding display in front of their own
supporters in the second leg, which will be played on Wednesday 21 December, in order to advance to the last 16.
For now however, the Copa del Rey will slip to the back of their minds, as the small matter of El Clásico on Saturday takes centre stage.

MATCH FACTS

 Hercules: Buigues; Dalmau, Roman, Rojas, Peña; Omgba, Pedro Ingles, Gaspar (Chechu), Juanma; Salinas (Miñano), Mainz (Berrocal).

 Barcelona : Cillessen, Vidal, Umtiti (Nili), Borja, Digne, Rafinha, Denis, Arda, Carbonell (Gomes), Aleña (Cardona), Alcacer.

Goals: 0-1, min. 52: Mainz; 1-1, min. 57: Alena.
 
Referee: Ocon Arraiz.
 
Yellow Cards: Pena (min. 90).
 
Jose Rico Perez (Alicante): Attendance,
20.000.

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