Iniesta gives Barcelona cup win over 3rd-tier team

Andres Iniesta’s first-half goal gave Barcelona a 1-0 victory at

third-tier Hospitalet on Wednesday in the first leg of their Copa

del Rey series.

Iniesta scored with a long-range shot that dipped out of the

reach of goalkeeper Jose Moragon in the 42nd minute on the

artificial turf at the Feixa Llarga stadium.

Despite a lower-tier opponent, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola

sent out a near full-strength lineup that included Cesc Fabregas,

Xavi Hernandez, David Villa and Carles Puyol, although Lionel Messi

is away on international duty.

But the third-division hosts did well to repel and limit the

Spanish champion’s potent attack, which goes into the Dec. 21

return leg with an unexpectedly thin lead.

Moragon starred for Hospitalet as Villa, Seydou Keita and

Fabregas all tested the Spanish keeper before Iniesta gathered a

pass from Fabregas outside the area and stepped up to fire a

right-footed shot into the top left corner.

Barcelona extended its unbeaten start to the season to 19 games,

including Spanish and European Super Cup triumphs.

A crowd of 6,294 watched a match that was moved forward to

accommodate the European champion’s Club World Cup appearance in


The first leg of the other 15 fourth-round games are scheduled

for Dec. 13, with Real Madrid at third-division Ponferradina.