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A superb goal from debutant Carles Alena saved Barcelona from an embarrassing defeat as they drew 1-1 at Hercules in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-32 tie.
Luis Enrique made 11 changes with Saturday’s El Clasico in mind and watched his side endure a significantly more testing evening than he would have expected.
Barca barely produced a meaningful attempt in the first half and were stunned when David Mainz bundled home for the third-tier hosts shortly after the break.
The visitors 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 and have now won only two of their last six in all competitions.
Paco Alcacer’s poor start to his Barcelona career continued as he made it nine matches without a goal since his €30million move from Valencia.
The second leg takes place at Camp Nou in three weeks’ time.
It was Alcacer who had Barca’s first effort, his free-kick from the edge of the area pushed away by home goalkeeper Ivan Buigues in an otherwise quiet start to the match.
Jose Gaspar had a tame shot saved by Jasper Cillessen at the other end, while Borja Lopez – one of three players handed a debut by Luis Enrique – headed over for Barca as they struggled to break down the hosts despite dominating possession.
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