Valencia vs Barcelona: Coutinho scores as holders qualify for final

Luis Suarez was suspended from last season’s Cup final win over Alaves after being sent off late on in the semi-final second leg

Coutinho joined Barcelona from Liverpool last month in a hotly-anticipated deal having always been talked up as the heir to Andres Iniesta. Valencia came close to scoring in the first half but the game produced very few chances in the first 45 minutes.

"We thought it would be very hard and that's how it was, but we're going home with the final ticket in our pocket".

Later, finding space against an aggressive opponent, Barcelona managed a second goal of the night - and third overall - when Suarez stole the ball from Brazilian defender Gabriel and set up Ivan Rakitic for a score in the 82nd minute.

And, five years ago this month, the Uruguayan also assisted the Brazilian as he opened his Liverpool account during a 5-0 victory over Swansea.

On game No5, however, the goal finally arrived - with a little help from Suarez. We have time to prepare ourselves. This is a very special moment for me, my first final with Barcelona.

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Barca coach Ernesto Valverde may take some of the credit for Coutinho's first goal for the club after taking the decision to bring him on for Andre Gomes at half-time. "Yes, that's true. I hope I can register more with [Lionel] Messi and Suarez".

Pique was a major doubt going into the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final at the Mestalla after he picked up a knee injury during the weekend's 1-1 draw against Espanyol. "I normally wait to make changes, but this time I saw it clearly", he added.

However, despite the consistency with which they excel in the competition - they haven't lost a two-legged knockout game since 2013 - Valverde says reaching the final is still significant for the club.

Valencia was attempting to make it to the Copa final for the first time since 2007-08, when it won its seventh title after eliminating Barcelona in the semifinals. "It's a special moment".

A good night all round for Barca was rounded off when Yerry Mina replaced Gerard Pique seven minutes from the end.

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