MX23RW : Friday, January 18 00:02:54

Live Commentary: Valencia 0-2 Barcelona - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's coverage as Barcelona book their place in the final of the Copa del Rey courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Valencia at the Mestalla.
Live Commentary: Valencia 0-2 Barcelona - as it happened
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Valencia hosted Barcelona in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash at the Mestalla seeking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg at the Camp Nou.

Los Che acquitted themselves well with a promising first-half display, but were soon undone after the break when substitute Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring with his first goal for the club.

Barcelona added a second just over 15 minutes from time when Luis Suarez setup Ivan Rakitic, who made no mistake with his finish in order to establish a final showdown with Sevilla.

Relive all of the action from the contest with our minute-by-minute updates below.

7.30pmGood evening everyone and thank you for joining us for our live coverage as Valencia welcome the visit of Barcelona to the Mastella, as the clubs prepare to do battle in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash.

7.32pmBarcelona hold a slender advantage going into this encounter, thanks to a solitary effort from Luis Suarez in the first leg at the Camp Nou last week.

7.34pmErnesto Valverde's charges are aiming to make it 30 Copa del Rey titles this campaign by adding a fourth consecutive title in a row.

7.34pmVALENCIA STARTING XI: Jaume; Montoya, Paulista, Garay, Gaya; Coquelin, Pajero, Kondogbia Rodrigo; Vietto, Zaza

7.35pmVALENCIA SUBSTITUTES: Neto, Vezo, Soler, Guedes, Mina, Lato, Maksimovic

7.36pmBARCELONA STARTING XI: Cillessen; S. Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Rakitic, Gomes, Busquets, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi

7.37pmBARCELONA SUBSTITUTES: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Coutinho, Paulinho, Alcacer, Vidal, Mina

7.38pmSo the major team news for Barcelona is that Gerard Pique has been declared fit to play this evening despite seemingly causing himself some damage against Espanyol at the weekend. Barca have also welcomed back both Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba from the bench in the full-back positions, giving the visitors some much-needed energy down the flanks this evening. New signing Philippe Coutinho will have to make an impact from the bench.

7.40pmAs expected the damaging combination of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi continue in attack as they did during the first leg. Messi only played half an hour at the weekend during the club's 1-1 draw with their Catalonian rivals. Paulinho was thought to have earned himself a place tonight, but instead Andre Gomes features in midfield, alongside Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.

7.42pmFor the home side, Marcelino Garcia Toral has been able to recall a number of key players who missed out on the first leg. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Ezequiel Garay both return to Copa del Rey action this evening. The hosts will feature top scorer Simone Zaza in combination with Luciano Vietto in attack, whilst playmaker Rodrigo will be operating from the left flank.

7.44pmOne player missing for the home side is Manchester United's Andreas Pereira, who is out for three weeks following an injury picked up from a Roberto tackle last week. There is some positive news, however, in that the influential Goncalo Guedes has made the bench despite some groin trouble in recent weeks.

7.46pmBarcelona are coming into this contest having lost only once in 35 games in all competitions, since being beaten across two legs in the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid back in August.

7.48pmValverde's men are undefeated in 32 of their last 34 matches in this competition and have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven matches in the Copa del Rey.

7.49pmFollowing last week's first-leg victory over Valencia, Barca returned to league action against close rivals Espanyol, who were able to frustrate Valverde's men by holding them to a 1-1 draw. Prior to that draw, Barca had won all four games across all competitions, scoring 10 goals and conceding just one.

7.50pmThat draw, which saw Pique score late thanks to some help from substitute Messi, means Barca are now nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid with 58 points from 22 games. Valverde's side have averaged 2.7 goals per game in the league this term.

7.52pmTonight's visitors produced a rather tepid display on home soil last week, but they never really got too much beyond second gear against a Valencia side that were clearly setup for damage limitation away from home. Los Che will need to come out of the traps here given that they need to score at least once to stay in the competition after 90 minutes.

7.53pmBarcelona actually hold a rather scary record when taking one-goal leads into the second legs of fixtures in this cup. The Catalonians have gone through all six times after winning a Copa del Rey first leg at home 1–0.

7.54pmThe return of Garay at the back could prove vital for Valencia, especially when coming up against this Barcelona attack. Although they have shown signs of tiredness in recent weeks, Messi and Suarez have combined for 45 goals and 17 assists this season.

7.56pmFor Barca, this evening could help them add to some rather impressive records in this cup. Progression tonight means that the club would have reached a remarkable fifth consecutive Copa del Rey final, making them only the third team to do so after Real Madrid Athletic Bilbao.

7.57pmAs for Valencia, this contest could represent a potential turning point in what has been a tumultuous 2018. The club started the campaign in remarkable form and seemed to put to bed rumours of a derailment in the winter by notching a five-match unbeaten run to start the new year too. Things have been poor since then, though, with the club now coming off the back of five straight defeats in all competitions.

8.00pmOne of those defeats came in a 2-1 away loss to Alaves in the second leg of their quarter-final fixture in this competition, leaving Marcelino's men to scrape through on penalties. The other four defeats have come against Las Palmas, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

8.02pmOne of the problems has been the form of lead striker Zaza, who was unavailable for the first leg. The Italy international has failed to score in his last nine outings, despite scoring nine times in his first 10 La Liga games. His last goal came on December 9.

8.05pmA key player for Barcelona to keep an eye on this evening is Rodrigo, who has nine goals from 20 La Liga showings this term. The return of Kondogbia in the middle should really help the hosts connect the defence and midfield, which they failed to do in the first leg. The club could also call on the presence of poacher Santi Mina from the bench too, who has chipped in with a fair few goals this campaign.

8.07pmVictory tonight could certainly lift this Valencia side, who are now close to dropping down into fourth in the domestic standings should Real Madrid win their looming game in hand. It has been 10 years since Los Che last made it to the final of the Copa del Rey.

8.08pmPrior to last week's contest, these sides last met in La Liga when the spoils were infamously shared following a 1-1 draw at this ground in November last year.

8.09pmIt is arguably fair to state that Barcelona have the upper hand over Valencia in recent years. Barca have won three, drawn two and lost one of the past six meetings between the clubs across all competitions. The Catalonians have not lost in Valencia since 2008.

8.11pmBarca are undefeated in 23 of their last 25 matches against Valencia in all competitions too. Should the visitors be hoping for glory in the cup this term, they will need to be aware that both Suarez and Roberto are just one yellow each away from missing the final.

8.13pmBoth managers have been speaking ahead of this contest and Valverde has been clear that he is aware of Valencia's attacking potential. Here's what he has had to say to reporters in the build-up to the contest: "[Valencia] are a team difficult to overcome and go fast into counter-attacks. Of course, as they are down on aggregate, I imagine that they will be more aggressive in attack. They play at home and I guess they will try to exploit their possibilities with the [contribution of the] supporters."

8.14pmAs for the home coach, Marcelino has called on his side to be clever in their approach to chasing this game, especially when trying to deal with its emotional intensity:

"We are expecting a long game, a very tough game, and hopefully after the 90 minutes we will be able to say that we are in a Copa del Rey final.

"Emotionally, it is going to be an intense game, but we need to play with our heads and our hearts. We have to be clever. If we don't defend well, we won't go through. I am asking the fans to help us defend.

"We should be humble because we know that we don't have a team that can dominate Barcelona for 90 minutes. Our plan is to defend well, but to attack better than in the first leg and get into the final stages with the possibility of going through."

8.16pmJust under 15 minutes to go until kickoff now. Here's some footage of the Valencia players arriving at the Mestalla a little earlier tonight:

8.18pmPREDICTION! Valverde's inclusion of both Gomes and the quick return of Pique suggest that he sees his side in for a real battle here tonight. Valencia have been able to call on the return of some important players in the shape of Zaza, Kondogbia and Garay too. Having said that, it is hard to see Barcelona not being able to at least score once. Valencia should make this much more of a spectacle than they did last week, but having to open up and get a goal could leave the hosts vulnerable at the back. I'm backing Barca to progress to the final by earning a 2-1 win on the road.

8.21pmThe impact that Barca can make from the bench is a frightening prospect too, especially when you look at the creativity of Coutinho and the added goals of Paulinho this term. As for Valencia, Pereira will be sorely missed. Guedes will be itching to get on at some point tonight though.

8.22pmJust a quick reminder of those starting XIs then as we await kickoff...

8.23pmVALENCIA STARTING XI: Jaume; Montoya, Paulista, Garay, Gaya; Coquelin, Pajero, Kondogbia Rodrigo; Vietto, Zaza

8.24pmBARCELONA STARTING XI: Cillessen; S. Roberto, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Rakitic, Gomes, Busquets, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi

8.25pmThis stadium is buzzing now just five minutes from kickoff, Los Che certainly know how to put on a show while creating a hostile atmosphere for visiting sides.

8.26pmThe players are now gathering in the tunnel and will soon be led out by tonight's referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco.

8.29pmHere they come then... Barcelona in their usual claret and blue, while Valencia feature in white and black this evening.

8.31pmThere's an ever-so-slight delay to kickoff and we'll be a minute or so past the allotted kickoff time as the players take their positions across the pitch. We should be in for a thrilling encounter at the Mestalla.

1 minKICKOFF! Barcelona get us moving, kicking from right to left...

3 minBarca move the ball back to Alba, who is clattered at the first attempt by Zaza, who is clearly trying to get the early press going. The visitors soon move the play back into motion and they look comfortable on the ball already.

5 minValencia have kept their shape well so far under a period of early pressure. The ball is moved swiftly down the right for the run of Messi, who sees his cross to the near post headed away by a dominant Garay.

6 minParejo almost comes a cropper inside his own half, as the skipper carelessly passes the ball across his backline without looking up. Messi tries to nip in and steal possession, although Paulista is alert and is able to shift over and clear his lines.

7 minSHOT! Decent signs of some early link-up between the Valencia forwards now as Zaza threads the run of Coquelin on the edge of the area. The former Arsenal man picks his spot with a drilled effort, but Cillessen is equal to it with a save down low.

8 minGomes shows Barca fans what he is all about as he springs forward inside the Valencia box to collect a through-ball from Messi along the outside channel. Gaya reads the game well, though, and is able to come across and win himself an important free kick under pressure from the Barca midfielder.

9 minSAVE! Valencia give away a rather needless free kick 25 yards out from goal, leaving the set-piece in a perfect position for Messi. The Argentine steps up to deliver a bending effort over the wall, which is tipped away from goal by a diving Domenech.

10 minKondogbia missed the first leg but his presence in the middle seems to have shored up the hosts here, especially when they look to break from deeper positions. Barcelona in the ascendancy at the moment as they dominate possession. Valencia have held firm, although they have been unable to thread too much together at the moment.

12 minRoberto is just starting to make some inroads down the right flank and his testing ball into the middle is expertly dealt with by Garay, who clears with both Messi and Suarez lurking in the danger zone.

14 minCROSSBAR! Almost the goal Valencia required to get back into this as the ball is whipped into the middle of the area, leaving Rodrigo to scramble free only to see his looping header cannon back off the crossbar with Cillessen well beaten.

16 minIniesta works his magic for the first time this evening as he scrambles forward before threading a standout through-ball into the path of Suarez, who has the beating of both centre-backs. The forward cannot quite bring the ball under control with just the keeper to beat, though.

18 minBarca have had a lot of the ball in the first 20 minutes, but it's Valencia who have arguably come closest with Rodrigo finding the frame of the goal. It looks like the hosts have decided to sit deep again and probably look likely to try and remain in the game as they wait for something on the counter.

20 minGomes is seeing quite a bit of the ball on the edge of the Valencia box here, as Barca work things patiently waiting for someone in the Valencia defence to slip up. The Portuguese midfielder finally grows impatient, though, as he attempts a chipped through-ball into Messi, allowing Domenech to come off his line and gather.

22 minVietto has been quiet, but he soon comes to life down the right channel. The frontman gets his head up and aims to pick out Zaza in the middle. His cross is a brilliant one, but so too is the defending from the Barca man, who clears at the vital moment with the Italian striker ready to pounce.

24 minDespite not creating too much flair in these opening exchanges, there at least seems some purpose to Valencia's play, which comes in stark contrast to their showing at the Camp Nou last week. The home side look patient out of possession and seem happy to take this game as deep as possible before opening up to score the goal required to get them back into this contest.

26 minA promising spell for the home side again... They look organised and full of intent in their tactics. This time Coquelin spots some lacklustre passing from Gomes and is able to nip in and steal the ball. The midfielder drives into the box, but cannot deliver the final pass to pick out Zaza in the middle.

28 minSAVE! Valencia are turning the screw now... Again Barca are caught napping and Zaza almost threads Rodrigo through one-on-one with the keeper, but for a fortunate deflection off the heel of Busquets. The loose ball then falls freely to Rodrigo, who sees his powerful drive turned away from goal by Cillessen.

30 minBy his own high standards, Messi has been rather anonymous so far, although we all know that can change in an instant. The playmaker picks up the ball and has a go from range, but the effort is a tame one and Domenech is left unchallenged in the home goal.

32 minThis contest is really starting to hot up and it's Valencia again who cause problems on the counter. Kondogbia is the instigator as he aims to set Zaza free beyond the last man, but Pique is there to save the day for the visitors.

34 minYELLOW CARD! First yellow of the game as Rodrigo goes into the book for a foul on Iniesta. Barca have a free kick from promising range, but Messi hits it straight into the wall.

36 minValencia exploit the opportunity to break once more through Kondogbia, who eventually slots Zaza away inside the Barca box. The visitors recover well, though, leaving Pique to eventually clear.

38 minOUCH! Messi attempts to break the Valencia backline to receive a lofted through-ball from Iniesta. Domenech has no qualms about coming off his line to punch clear, clattering the Argentine in the process.

40 minThis is clever from Barca, who have just sought to take some of the sting out of the contest by slowing the tempo and holding the ball more effectively in the middle. Valencia have looked promising on the break.

42 minMore considered work from the visitors now, as they make slow inroads through the middle and then out wide with Roberto. The full-back eventually gets his cross into the middle, but again, as has been the case for much of tonight, Garay stands tall and heads away the danger.

44 minRakitic comes alive on the edge of the Valencia area as he switches things quickly to Messi. Valencia are quick on the press, however, leaving Messi to beat one but not the other as the home side see out the threat.

45 minCLOSE! Rakitic turns on the style with a neat ball to find the run of Suarez, but he cannot find the required finish beyond Domenech, as both Paulista and Garay put the frontman under considerable pressure inside the box.


9.20pmWhat a game of football we have on our hands here. Barcelona are ahead from the first leg, but Valencia have really turned themselves around for this contest. Both sides have threatened and each could have taken the lead. Valencia will be delighted with the threat they have posed on the break so far and might just feel that they can get back into this tie in the second period.

9.22pmThe return of Garay, Kondogbia and Zaza has made a world of difference for the hosts, who are playing with purpose on the break. Valencia have setup well at the back and have been able to stifle Barcelona for much of the game. Zaza hasn't done too much shooting although his presence and movement has caused real problems for the visitors.

9.31pmMarcelino will be thoroughly pleased with how his side have approached this encounter so far, the only sticking point being that they still find themselves behind in the game. Zaza has been outstanding, as has Rodrigo, as the hosts go in search of the vital opener. Los Che also have the option to introduce both Guedes and Mina should they be required as the game wears on.

9.32pmValverde will be fairly satisfied with his side still in the driving seat, knowing that Valencia will have to open up at some point should they not find a goal quickly. That will surely leave more space for their creative players to exploit. The visitors have a strong bench too so expect to follow an enthralling second period here.

45 minSECOND HALF! We are back underway at the Mestalla. Barcelona have made a change too, with Coutinho coming on in place of Gomes, who did not have the best of halves in all honesty...

47 minValencia will be wanting more of the same early on. They'll be hoping to stifle Messi and company once more. The ball almost drops kindly to Coutinho inside the home box, leaving Garay to put his boot through it.

48 minRodrigo is involved in the action again from the off, as he drives down the left and crosses into the near post. Vietto makes a move for it, although Pique has it covered and is able to prod the ball out of the frontman's reach.


50 minWhat a huge goal in the context of this game... and it's seemingly a masterstroke from Valverde. Suarez does all the work down the right and is able to cut inside into the box. The Uruguay international shows great pace and skill to beat his man before crossing towards the back-post for former Liverpool buddy Coutinho. The Brazilian arrives late and somehow manages to squeeze the ball back across goal and into the far corner on the slide. An absolutely terrific finish from the new signing.

52 minThat goal gives Barca a two-goal advantage and the added benefit of an away goal, cancelling out any need for penalties or extra-time this evening.

54 minSUBSTITUTES: Valencia make two changes as Coquelin and Rodrigo are replaced by Guedes and Soler.

56 minBarcelona have dropped off after the goal and are now inviting Valencia forward. The hosts need goals quickly now if they want any chance of saving this game.

58 minValencia haven't given this up just yet, as Parejo has a go from range before winning a corner. Los Che look slightly jaded after conceding that goal and things are arguably only going to get worse as Barcelona look to wear them down with continued spells of possession.

62 minSAVE! That really would have been game over had that gone in. Suarez and Messi combine brilliantly inside the box, leaving the latter to thunder a shot in down low which is saved smartly by a diving Domenech.

64 minNothing is ever good enough for Iniesta, is it? With his side effectively two goals to the good, the veteran playmaker is still back inside his own half harassing Parejo to win back possession for the visitors.

65 minSUBSTITUTION: Barcelona make their second change, this time as Paulinho comes on to replace Iniesta, who has been brilliant this evening.

66 minCLOSE! Guedes has been struggling for fitness of late, but he almost comes up with a vital goal for the hosts. The substitute climbs highest inside the area, but his header loops just over the crossbar with Cillessen scrambling.

68 minWHAT A TACKLE! Valencia carelessly give the ball away, leaving Suarez to steal possession and lead a counter. Messi is on the overlap and he picks out his teammate perfectly. It looks as though the Argentine is about to slot beyond Domenech, only for Paulista to make a wonderful last-ditch sliding tackle.

70 minSUBSTITUTE: It looks like Garay has been injured during that melee in the box. It looks like he might have torn something. The defender is replaced by Ruben Vezo.

72 minValencia need three goals now to change this script as a few seats now start to empty at the Mestalla. The hosts have done everything right but score tonight.

73 minThe hosts are really tiring now as Barcelona work possession across the face of the home box. The ball is eventually fed into the path of Coutinho, who goes for goal with a whipping effort that is gathered cleanly down low by Domenech. Good keeping!

74 minWHAT A SAVE! You will not see another like this... Zaza heads the ball back across goal into the path of Gaya, who somehow finds himself totally unmarked and just a couple of yards out from goal. The full-back makes great contact and looks certain to score, only for Cillessen to throw his body wide like an octopus and manage to get something on the ball to block it on the line.

76 minThe writing is clearly on the wall now and Valencia are just starting to go through the motions as they find themselves slowly pressing Barca inside their half.

80 minKondogbia goes in a little too hard 30 yards out from goal, giving Messi the chance to have a go from range, although his shot flies high and wide without troubling an unmoved Domenech.


82 minRakitic makes it a second on the night for Barca, who now lead 3-0 on aggregate. Suarez is the star of the show again during the build-up, beating two men to open up space and feed Rakitic, who slots coolly beyond Domenech.

84 minSUBSTITUTION: A wonderful night for young defender Yerry Mina, who makes his first appearance off the bench, as he replaces the magisterial Pique at the back.

86 minAs you would expect, Barcelona are in total control, switching the play with real verve and simply tiring out their opponents in the process.

90 minWe're going to have two minutes of additional time at the Mestalla...



10.28pmSo there we have it, Barcelona advance and will play Sevilla in the final of the Copa del Rey. Valencia did not do much wrong tonight, but they were punished by two goals of real quality. The hosts were much improved from last week, but still came up short against a side that will surely fancy making this four Copa del Rey trophies in a row. That's going to be all from me, thanks for joining us this evening.

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Philippe Coutinho in action for Barcelona on January 28, 2018
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