Barca cruise into Copa final

Barcelona booked their place in the Copa del Rey final with an 8-1 aggregate demolition of Valencia after they drew 1-1 in Wednesday’s second leg.

As expected, the Catalans were significantly changed from last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Levante, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen starting in goal, Marc Bartra partnering Thomas Vermaelen in central defence and Aleix Vidal and Jeremy Mathieu moving into the full-back positions.

In midfield, Sergi Samper was named alongside Ivan Rakitic and Sergi Roberto – the only two remnants from the trip to Ciutat de Valencia – while none of the ‘MSN’ featured up top.

Valencia, on the other hand, were playing for pride, given their 7-0 deficit from the first leg, and Gary Neville, whose position was thrown into doubt during the game, fielded a number of youngsters, including Ruben Vezo, Ibrahim Diallo, Fran Villalba, Wilfried Zahibo and Santi Mina.

Out of protest for recent results, Mestalla was only scarcely full, and the fans who did attend would only endure more frustration as the visitors ran rings around their opponents, although their only chance should have been taken, an unmarked Munir El Haddadi failing to guide a header on target.

However, Los Che improved as the half wore thin, having forced former charge Mathieu into a goal-line clearance to deny Santi Mina from point-blank range, and pulled a goal back, when Negredo sprung a failed offside trap and rounded Ter Stegen, albeit helped by a deflection off the goalkeeper’s face.

The second half never really got going, with both sides cancelling one another out, although Valencia arguably had the better of the chances, Mina sending a free header wide and another last-ditch clearance denying Negredo’s cutback after he had left Vidal in his wake.

Los Che continued to create openings, albeit few and far between, as Danilo Barbosa’s free kick forced Ter Stegen into a fingertip save, while Pablo Piatti was guilty of missing two snapshots, the latter especially disappointing as it brought a promising breakaway to an abrupt end.

Nonetheless, their gradual decline was exploited by Barca’s three substitutes, Douglas playing in Juan Camara down the left and the winger drilling a low cross into the box for Wilfried Kaptoum’s first senior goal in Blaugrana colours, a strike which also set a new club record of 29 games unbeaten.

Valencia 1-1 Barcelona (1-7 agg.)

Negredo 39 (V) Kaptoum 84 (B)

Valencia: Domenech; Vezo, Santos, Diallo, Gaya; Danilo, Villalba (Iban 80); Zahibo; Mina (Gomes 71), Negredo (Bakkali 60), Piatti

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Vidal, Bartra, Vermaelen, Mathieu; Samper, Rakitic (Camara 76), Sergi; Munir, Sandro (Kaptoum 82), Adriano (Douglas 76)

Referee: Velasco Carballo