Barcelona took control of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia after Luis Suarez’s second-half header ended the visitors’ resistance and secured a 1-0 first-leg win at Camp Nou on Thursday.
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Ernesto Valverde’s men looked to be in for a frustrating outing as they struggled to turn their domination into something meaningful, but eventually Lionel Messi clicked into gear and provided Suarez with the chance to give Barca the advantage.
The first half was a long one for Valencia, who restricted Barca’s flow of chances but faced a seemingly endless barrage and only managed to see 21 per cent of the ball.
For all of Barca’s time in possession, however, they crafted little of note and struggled to break through Valencia’s packed defence.
Things were slightly more open after the interval, though Barca’s effectiveness in front of goal showed few signs of improvement, forcing Valverde to introduce Philippe Coutinho from the bench.
And with 23 minutes to go, Barca finally found a way through thanks to the combination of Messi and Suarez, securing a slender lead to take to Mestalla next Thursday.