Suarez scrapes Barca advantage

Barcelona took a slender advantage in their Copa del Rey semi-final with Valencia thanks to Luis Suarez's second-half header.

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A drab encounter ended with nothing separating the two teams in the first half, but Suarez was on hand to give Barca a 1-0 victory to take to Mestalla next week.

Philippe Coutinho managed 66 minutes on his full Barca debut against Alaves last weekend, and he was replaced on the Catalans’ right wing by Aleix Vidal.

Elsewhere, Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba came into into the full-back positions and Paulinho made way for Sergio Busquets in central midfield.

Marcelino, meanwhile, rang the changes after Valencia's 4-1 home defeat to Real Madrid as Gabriel Paulista, Ruben Vezo, Andreas Pereira, Carlos Soler and new boy Luciano Vietto were all summoned.

The two sides last met in November, when Alba rescued Barca a 1-1 draw, yet their previous Copa meeting at Camp Nou saw the Blaugrana demolish Los Che – then coached by Gary Neville – 7-0.

However, there was no such entertainment on Thursday, with the hosts dominating possession but struggling to break down a Valencia side that were well-drilled and well-organised.

Suarez came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, but the rebound from Andres Iniesta's saved cross-shot fell a whisker away from the No 9, who was unmarked in the six-yard box.

Martin Montoya, on the other hand, could've scored against his former club, his first-time volley leaving Jasper Cillessen fixated on his line, but it flashed just wide.

Barely over half of the Camp Nou's 90,000 seats were filled for the cup tie, and the rainy conditions only made for more of the same after the break.

Indeed, the only real action came in the form of a goal as Messi's chipped cross was parried straight to an unmarked Suarez, who sent a diving header home.

Coutinho's introduction also gave the home fans something to cheer about, while Paco Alcacer's thunderous volley nearly punished his former club, with Domenech needing to tip it over.

The visitors rarely left their shell, even after going a goal down, although Cillessen was forced to spring off his line and out his box to perfectly time a sliding tackle on Santi Mina.

Barcelona 1-0 Valencia

Suarez 67

Barcelona: Cillessen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Aleix Vidal (Coutinho 58) Rakitic (Paulinho 68, Busquets, Iniesta (Alcacer 68); Messi, Suarez

Valencia: Domenech; Montoya, Vezo, Gabriel Paulista, Gaya; Soler (Ferran 76), Parejo, Coquelin, Pereira (Maksimovic 46); Vietto, Moreno (Santi Mina 81)

Referee: Sanchez Martinez