NEWS
Thursday February 8 2018
Coutinho & Suarez book Barca Final

The Liverpool connection of Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez proved decisive as Barcelona beat Valencia 2-0 to reach yet another Copa del Rey Final.

See how the action unfolded at Mestalla with our liveblog!

Coutinho came off the bench to break the deadlock in Thursday's second leg, with Suarez teeing up his former Liverpool teammate, before the No 9 laid off Ivan Rakitic for a second goal late on to ensure the holders reached their fifth Copa Final in a row.

The Brazilian was still finding his feet at Barca after his club-record transfer from Liverpool, and his place was taken in the starting XI by Valencia old boy Andre Gomes, with the Catalans switching back to a 4-4-2 formation.

Los Che, meanwhile, needed overturn a 1-0 deficit if they were to face Sevilla in the Final, and Coach Marcelino threw caution to the wind, lining up with an attacking trident of Luciano Vietto, Simone Zaza and Rodrigo Moreno.

Nonetheless, history was on the Blaugrana's side as they had gone through on all six occasions in the Copa when they won the first leg 1-0.

No love was lost on the hosts' part as they went in hard on the cup holders, and their approach almost yielded a goal, only for the crossbar to prevent Rodrigo Moreno's towering header from going in.

Jasper Cillessen went on to push another Rodrigo attempt away, but those aside, Barca dominated possession and played some mesmerising football, with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta at the heart of it.

The pair regularly skipped past challenges and attracted fouls, but Messi's curling free kick was acrobatically punched away by Jaume Domenech, while Suarez's first touch twice let him down when it mattered.

Ernesto Valverde brought on Coutinho for the second half, with Gomes making way after another anonymous performance, and the attacker made an instant impact, perfectly sliding a finish across Domenech from Suarez's cutback.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing for the visitors as Cillessen pulled off arguably the save of the season to keep them ahead, his arm instinctively blocking Jose Luis Gaya's shot from a yard out.

Marcelino's side were dealt a cruel blow when Ezequiel Garay was stretchered off, culminating in Rakitic calmly picking his spot after Suarez robbed Gabriel Paulista near his own box.

The Catalans, who also gave Yerry Mina his debut in the closing stages, will now face Sevilla in May, hoping for a record-equalling, fourth straight Copa win.

Valencia 0-2 Barcelona (0-3 agg.)

Coutinho 49, Rakitic 82

Valencia: Domenech; Montoya, Gabriel Paulista, Garay (Vezo 71), Gaya; Coquelin (Soler 55), Parejo, Kondogbia; Vietto, Zaza, Rodrigo (Guedes 55)

Barcelona: Cillessen; Sergi Roberto, Pique (Yerry Mina 83), Umtiti, Alba; Gomes (Coutinho 46), Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta (Paulinho 65); Messi, Suarez

Referee: Undiano Mallenco

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