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Barcelona reached the final of the Copa del Rey after beating Valencia by 2-0 in the second leg of the semi-final. Philip Coutinho scored his first goal after Valverde brought him for the second half. Then in the 81th minute, Ivan Rakitic added one more goal to crush any remaining hopes for Valencia. With the aggregate of 3-0 against Valencia, Barcelona will now face Sevilla for the final of the Copa del Rey.
This was the fifth appearance of Philip Coutinho for Barcelona after coming from Liverpool last month for a £142m. A happy Coutinho later said:
“It’s a special moment for me. I had been trying to score this first goal. I finally got it today and it helped the team advance to the final.”
This final will be the fifth consecutive final for the Catalans. With already a massive lead in the La Liga, Barcelona will now be poised to win the Copa del Rey for the 30th time.
Lionel Messi, who was featured only as a substitute in the draw against Espanyol, shot a brilliant free-kick early in the game which Jaume Domenech punched away. Soon Valencia made some very good attacks with Rodrigo’s header almost going for a goal. The Spanish forward Rodrigo threatened Barca again in the 28th minute but Jasper Cillessen managed to block the ball. In the final stages of the first half, Suarez made a fruitless shot for goal followed by Geoffrey Kondogbia’s shot going into the side netting.
After the break, Velverde brought in Coutinho for Andre Gomes. That decision of Velverde proved instantly effective. Coutinho slid to get the cross from Suarez and send it to the left corner for a superb goal. Then in the 81th minute, Rakitic crushed the remaining hopes for Valencia and scored to get his team into the finals of the Copa del Rey.
With such a performance Valverde thinks that they deserved to progress. He said:
“In the first leg, Valencia didn’t let us score many, in the second we have dominated despite them having good chances, but we deserve to progress.”
Although Coutinho’s first goal will make the headlines but Luis Suarez deserves no less credit either. In the first leg, he had scored the lone goal against Valencia while he produced two brilliant assists for this game.
Barcelona will play two games against Getafe and Eibar before their big match against Chelsea in the Champions League. Valverde is confident about the return of Ousmane Dembele for the Chelsea match. According to Valverde, he is expected to return to full form by the next week. The French forward Dembele had been out of the team for about a month after suffering a hamstring injury in January.
Chelsea will be licking their wounds after the humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of Watford. Coach Antonio Conte is under enormous pressure after that game. Therefore looking at their current forms, Barcelona look to be the clear favorites for the next match.