Cesc Fabregas saved Barcelona’s blushes last night after they fell behind in the Spanish Cup to Cartagena, a team in one of Spain’s regional third divisions.
The Spanish champions eventually ran out comfortable winners with 18-year-old striker Jean Marie Dongou scoring his first goal for the senior team.
But it started badly for coach Tata Martino. Having rested Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Xavi – and without the injured Leo Messi and Victor Valdes – he watched in despair as his team went behind on 16 minutes.
Fernando raced away to shoot past Jose Pinto and Barça were facing a potential third straight defeat after losing in the league to Athletic Bilbao and in the Champions League to Ajax.
But Fabregas led the response. He played in Pedro with superb assist and the Canary Islander equalized on 36 minutes. And two minutes before half time Fabregas scored with a volley to put Barcelona back in front. It was the former Arsenal captain’s 11th assist and seventh goal under Martino.
Cartagena players asked for shirts as the Barcelona players left the pitch at half time in the two-legged cup-tie. The home side have never finished higher than fifth in the second division and they can still look forward to the second leg at the Camp Nou in 10 days.
But the tie looks well beyond them after Barcelona added to their lead in the second half. Alexis Sanchez missed from six yards out but made amends by setting up Pedro who rounded the keeper for the third.
The Spain winger could have had a hat-trick but his shot on full-time came back off the post and substitute Dongou, the first product of Barça’s Samuel Eto’o foundation to make the first team, pounced to score.

Source: PETER JENSON.  dailymail.co.uk