Barcelona rally to beat 3rd-tier Unionistas de Salamanca in Copa del Rey
Barcelona picked up the pace in the second half to beat third-division club Unionistas 3-1 and advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday. It will be the second straight last-eight appearance for the Catalan club, which arrived under pressure after losing the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid on Sunday. - Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.) After being held 1-1 at half-time, Barcelona improved in the second half to secure the victory with goals by Jules Koundé and Alejandro Balde. The hosts had taken the lead with a beautiful one-timer by Álvaro Gómez in the 31st minute before Ferran Torres equalised for Barcelona on a breakaway in the 45th. Koundé scored with a long-range shot in the 69th and Balde sealed the victory with a strike from a tight angle in the 73rd. "After a tough loss in the Super Cup we needed to rebound," Koundé said. "It wasn't easy, they have a good team and were very motivated." Unionistas had a few chances to move closer toward the end, but Barcelona goalkeeper Iñaki Peña made some good saves to maintain the comfortable lead at the 5,000-capacity Reina Sofia Stadium. Barcelona defender Pau Cubarsí, 16, made his first-team debut by entering the match after half-time to replace Andreas Christensen. Barcelona are seeking their first Copa title since 2021, after being eliminated by Madrid in last year's semifinals. The Catalan club is the Copa's most successful team with 31 titles. Unionistas had eliminated Villarreal on penalties in the previous round. Their best Copa campaign so far had been a round-of-32 appearance in 2020, when they lost to Real Madrid. Girona, Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad reached the quarterfinals on Wednesday, while Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Mallorca advanced on Tuesday. The draw for the quarterfinals will be on Friday. The single-elimination games will be played next week.