MADRID: Barcelona didn't need Lionel Messi to secure a successful start to its Copa del Rey defense Tuesday, beating third-tier Alaves 3-0 after goals by David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.
Villa opened the scoring in the 40th minute when he perfectly timed his run past Alaves' back four to powerfully latch onto a long pass by Iniesta and send it into the net via the crossbar.
Villa, who missed the second half of last season and the European Championship after breaking his leg, said he's enjoying every minute being back on the pitch.
''From hospital it was difficult to score goals,'' Villa said. ''After all this time I want to play as much as possible, but I am in the hands of professionals and they know what's best for me.''
Iniesta added the second in the 51st after a well-worked move. Fabregas won possession deep in Alaves' half and threaded a cross through the defense to Villa, who found Iniesta with a delicate tap. The Spain midfielder then scored with a delightfully controlled lob over Alaves goalkeeper Urtzi Iturrioz.
Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez had what appeared to be a legitimate goal disallowed for offside in the 56th minute. But Fabregas rose above the Alaves defense in the center of the penatly area to head in a precisely aimed cross from the right by Dani Alves in the 88th.
Coach Tito Vilanova had decided to rest Messi, forward Pedro Rodriguez, midfielder Xavi Hernandez and defender Jordi Alba for the game.
With several other defenders out injured, Vilanova selected Martin Montoya, Javier Mascherano, Marc Bartra and Dani Alves for the back four. Earlier Tuesday, goals by Nelson Valdez and Jonas gave Valencia a 2-0 win over lower-tier club Llagostera.
Playing in pouring rain at Llagostera's 2,500-capacity stadium 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Barcelona, Valencia's Brazil forward Jonas headed midfielder Daniel Parejo's pass into the net in first-half injury time. Valdez then headed in a corner from Parejo in the 66th.
Llagostera is an agricultural town of 8,000 residents and its football has 500 members and an annual budget of (euro) 400,000.