|Carles Aleña celebrate goal vs Hércules | Image: FCB|
FC Barcelona couldn’t get off a winning start in their 2016/2017 Copa del Rey campaign as they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Rico Pérez by third tier team Hércules in the first leg of their Round of 32 tie.
With El Clásico in sight, Luis Enrique rested a host of key players against the Valencia based side but Samuel Umtiti returned to the starting lineup after spending 2 weeks on the sideline. However, Luis Enrique started 8 first team players and three from the B-team, with Cillessen, Aleix Vidal, Digne, Denis, Arda Turan, Paco Alcácer and Rafinha joining Umtiti in the starting XI with Aleña, Carbonell and Borja Lopez all handed debuts as starters.
Paco Alcácer started the fire in the game, shooting his free kick low and on target which was saved by Hércules goalkeeper Buiges. Barça lacked penetration, although they controlled possession, they found it hard to create a goalscoring chance but then Borja López headed over the bar from a Denis Suárez cross later on.
Hércules got a chance in the second half, Gasper struck a left-footer that went through the wall but Cillessen was alert to save, but it didn’t take long before the hosts took the lead. A teasing cross from the left eluded the entire Barça defence and Mainz was on hand to prod the ball home, beating a helpless Cillessen.
Barça responded six minutes later. Captain Rafinha moved the ball before laying a pass to Aleña which gave the 18-year old midfielder space to fire a shot from 30 yards and beat Buiges to give Barça the equaliser, a debut goal from the Barcelona B player.
The equalizer gave Barça momentum and Lucas Digne came close to getting the winner but his shot was saved by Buiges. Youngster Marc Cardona also had a shot saved by the Hércules goalkeeper. Hércules held on to secure the draw, Barça will have to finish the job at Camp Nou in the second leg on December 21.