Barcelona progressed into the Copa del Rey Final after beating Valencia 2-0 at the Mestalla, as Philippe Coutinho netted his first goal for the Catalan club.
The scoreline saw the away side go one better than the result of the first leg last week where Luis Suarez’s goal separated the sides at the Camp Nou. Both managers opted for full strength sides knowing the tie was still there for the taking, but it was clear to see who deserved to go through on the night.
Before kick-off, both teams observed a minutes silence in memory of Nacho Barbera, the U.D. Alzira youth player who sadly passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch last weekend.
Lionel Messi tried his luck early on with a curling free-kick in the ninth minute but Jaume Domenech cleared it away with a superman punch.
Five minutes later and Valencia replied with an attack themselves, hitting the crossbar in the process. Rodrigo rose highest in the penalty area but his looping header flew over Jasper Cillessen and off the top of the bar.
Valencia was creating the better chances in the first-half on the counter-attack and Rodrigo had another good effort but this time Cillessen was equal to his low shot from distance.
Barcelona was holding onto the ball like they are so renowned for and their intricate passing led to Ivan Rakitic combining with Suarez in the box but the latter’s shot was easily gathered by Domenech.
The Bats had a great chance to go into half-time 1-0 up but Geoffrey Kondogbia could only find the side netting. Francis Coquelin’s wonderful outside of the foot pass found his fellow French midfielder but he hammered the ball into the side of the goal from an acute angle.
Barcelona made a half-time change bringing on Coutinho for Andre Gomes who went missing in the first-half and the substitution instantly paid dividends. Luis Suarez slalomed his way down the left-hand side and swung in a delightful cross to the back post for Coutinho to finish on the slide.
Coutinho’s first goal in Barca colours reignites the connection he shared with the Uruguayan striker on Merseyside.
Cillessen then made one of the saves of the season in the 74th minute. Substitute Goncalo Guedes performed a fantastic turn that the late Johan Cruyff would have been proud of before putting a brilliant ball into the back post for fellow sub-Carlos Soler.
The Spaniard headed the ball to Jose Gaya in the six-yard box but the left-back’s shot was miraculously clawed away by the Dutch keeper from point-blank range.
Barca rubbed salt into Valencian wounds in the 82nd minute as Suarez grabbed his second assist of the night. Again he marauded down the left and this time squared for Rakitic who duly obliged and rocketed the ball into the back of the net.
Yerry Mina then came on for his Barcelona debut in place of the sublime Gerard Pique. The game ended with Barcelona in cruise control and they progress to play Sevilla in the Copa del Rey Final.