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Barca cruises without Messi and Vilanova

Lionel Messi watched from the sidelines as his Barca teammates eased into the last eight of the Copa del Rey.

Story highlights

  • Lionel Messi sits on the bench as Barcelona crushes Cordoba 5-0 in Copa del Rey
  • David Villa and Alexis Sanchez both score twice at Camp Nou
  • Barcelona will play Malaga in quarterfinals
  • Atletico Madrid and Real Betis both progress to last eight of competition

Lionel Messi, fresh from becoming the first player to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or award on four occasions, found himself on the bench as Barcelona cruised past Cordoba in the Copa del Rey.

The Argentine, who scored an astonishing 91 goals for club and country in 2012, watched on from the sidelines as Barca recorded a 5-0 win to wrap up a 7-0 aggregate victory.

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Cordoba, which plays in the third tier, was blown away as two goals from David Villa and a Thiago Alcantara strike put Barcelona three goals ahead inside the opening 26 minutes.

Alexis Sanchez scored twice after the break as the La Liga leaders set up a quarterfinal clash with Malaga, despite the absence of coach Tito Vilanova.

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The 44-year-old missed the game to seek medical advice following an operation for cancer of the salivary gland.

    Vilanova returns as Barca get back to work

    Vilanova, who was present for last weekend's 4-0 win over city rival Espanyol, faces six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy following the operation which took place on December 20.

    Barcelona, which has won 17 of its 18 league games so far this season, sits top of La Liga with a lead of 11 points from Atletico Madrid.

    Barca plays its next match against Malaga on Sunday.

    In Thursday's other games, Real Betis made it through to the last eight with a 2-1 aggregate win over Las Palmas.

    Following a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Ruben Castro's 85th minute strike sent Betis through to face Atletico Madrid in the last eight.

    Atletico, which took a 3-0 lead to Getafe for the second leg, claimed a goalless draw to progress.

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