05/25 17:38 CDT Valencia beats Barcelona 2-1 to win the Copa del Rey
Valencia beats Barcelona 2-1 to win the Copa del Rey
SEVILLE, Spain (AP) --- There was no lifting of a winner's trophy this time for
The Barcelona star had to settle on receiving the runner-up plate from Spanish
King Felipe VI after Valencia beat his side 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final on
The defeat ruined Barcelona's chance to earn a second consecutive domestic
double and an unprecedented fifth Copa del Rey in a row.
More importantly for coach Ernesto Valverde and players in question such as
Philippe Coutinho, who again did little to help Messi in attack, the loss puts
a disappointing finish to a season that just weeks ago was lined up for the
"We weren't able to meet the expectations that we created," Valverde said. "A
month ago we were celebrating the league title. Fifteen days ago we were
thinking we had a chance at a treble. And we came up short in the decisive
moments in both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey."
Barcelona's first defeat in the Copa since losing the 2014 final came two weeks
after it suffered a stunning 4-0 turnaround at Liverpool in the Champions
League semifinals, squandering in remarkable fashion a 3-0 first-leg win.
Like at Liverpool, defensive lapses doomed Barcelona to a 2-0 deficit by
Other than getting a lift from defender Gerard Pique, Barcelona was inspired
again by Messi, who tried to almost singlehandedly win the game for them in the
second half. The club's all-time greatest scorer hit the woodwork before
scoring in the 73rd minute when he put in a rebound of a save by Valencia
goalkeeper Jaume Domnech. But his best effort to force added time was an
off-target header with five minutes remaining.
Valencia's eighth Copa del Rey title and first since 2008 capped the
celebrations of its 100th anniversary since its founding. After a poor start to
the season, it came on strong and set a club record with 17 matches in a row
without a loss en route to reaching fourth place in the league to clinch a
Champions League berth. It also made the Europa League semifinals.
"I am so happy. I have been with the club for eight years and have been through
some tough moments. This club deserves more moments like this," said a tearful
Dani Parejo, who helped Valencia dictate the match until he was substituted for
a right leg injury.
With Luis Surez and Ousmane Dembele injured, Valverde aligned Sergi Roberto,
who normally plays at right back, next to Messi and an uninspired Coutinho.
The result was a toothless team that relied on Messi to generate almost all of
Valencia needed more than four minutes before it could complete consecutive
passes, but its first attack was inches away from producing a goal if not for
the timely intervention of Pique, who rushed back to clear Rodrigo Moreno's
shot from the line.
There was no stopping Kevin Gameiro's shot from just inside the edge of the
area in the 21st when Gabriel Paulista sent a long ball to Jos Gay breaking
unmarked down the left flank. Gay found Gameiro, who used one touch to dodge
the tackle of Jordi Alba before firing home.
With Barcelona in disarray, Rodrigo made it 2-0 in the 33rd when Parejo broke
Barcelona's pressure, and launched Carlos Soler, who sprinted past Alba and
sent a pin-point cross right to the head of Rodrigo.
Barcelona improved after Valverde sent on midfielder Arturo Vidal and forward
Malcom for the second half for Nelson Semedo and Arthur, who have recently
returned from injury.
Messi hit the far post in the 56th, then scored when Domnech did well to parry
a header by Clement Lenglet from a corner by Malcom. The ball fell to Messi to
finish off his 51st goal of the season.
"Anytime you win a league title, you have to call it a good year," Pique said.
"(But) we finish the season with a bittersweet sensation.
"We are FC Barcelona and have the obligation to win all competitions. We have
to congratulate Valencia and look to start next season even stronger."
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