Coutinho nets first goal, as Barca reach final

Barcelona will get the chance to defend their Copa del Rey title after a 2-0 win over Valencia saw them advance to the final 3-0 on aggregate.

Rodrigo hits woodwork with header
Goalless at the half-time break
Coutinho scores early in second half
Rakitic seals victory late on

Match Summary

Ernesto Valverde’s side took a 1-0 advantage into the semi-final, second-leg clash at the Mestalla, where they found the going tough initially.

But second-half goals from Philippe Coutinho – his first for the Catalan giants – and Ivan Rakitic secured Barca’s passage into the final for a fifth successive season.

Full Report

The visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the second leg, but they didn’t seriously test Jaume Domenech in the opening 45 minutes.

Marcelino’s men did their best to disrupt Barca’s game with plenty of robust challenges and they created the first chance after six minutes when Francis Coquelin swapped passes with Simone Zaza before drawing a routine save out of Japser Cillessen with a drilled effort.

The Catalan giants threatened three minutes later with a free-kick from 20 yards out that Messi curled towards the top-right corner, but Domenech got across his goal to punch the ball away.

Domenech had to be alert on 12 minutes as Gabriel diverted Andre Gomes’ cross towards his own goal, where the keeper reacted to make the save. The hosts went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Rodrigo hit the crossbar with a header from Jose Gaya’s cross on the left in the 14th minute. 

Rodrigo forced Cillessen into a diving save 13 minutes later with a rasping effort from Luciano Vietto’s lay-off inside the area, while Messi failed to hit the target with a curler on the half-hour mark after running at the Valencia defence.

The final action of the half saw Barcelona make inroads down the left through Rakitic, who slipped in Suarez, but the Uruguayan hit a tame shot at Domenech under pressure from a few defenders.

Coutinho was brought on at the start of the second half for the ineffective Gomes, and the Brazilian made an immediate impact as he somehow steered the ball just inside the far post from an acute angle on the right after meeting Suarez’s cross on the slide in the 49th minute.

Barca had another sniff at goal four minutes later when the ball fell at Suarez’s feet after Messi was crowded out inside the box, but the striker guided his shot past the far post from 12 yards out.

Substitute Carlos Soler looked to make an impact for Valencia from a 61st-minute corner that was cleared into his path, but the Spaniard’s side-foot from 20 yards out went just wide of the left post.

Domenech pulled off a smart save moments later to deny Messi from 12 yards out after Suarez got away down the right and picked out the Argentine with a low cross, before Valencia had two good chances in quick succession.

Goncalo Guedes was unable to keep his header down from Zaza’s clipped cross in the 66th minute and Vietto advanced into the box from the left seconds later to get off a shot that was comfortably dealt with by Cillessen.

Rakitic failed to punish the home defence for failing to clear their lines on 69 minutes as he lashed a shot well wide of the left post, while Coutinho hardly troubled Domenech with a long-range effort on the left four minutes later.

The action quickly switch to the other end, with Cillessen making the save of the match as he stuck out an arm to turn away Gaya’s shot from four yards out after the Spaniard had been teed up by Soler’s headed pass. Zaza failed to test the Dutchman on 75 minutes with a header that cleared the bar from Guedes’ cross on the left.

Messi passed up another opportunity to get on the scoresheet nine minutes from time when he lifted a free-kick well over the target from 25 yards out, but a mistake from Gabriel soon afterwards put the result beyond doubt. He gave away possession to Suarez, who surged through on goal and picked out Rakitic to fire past Domenech from inside the box.

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