Barça through to Copa final
A goal in each half from Cesc Fabregas and Xavi ensured Barcelona progressed to the Copa del Rey final at the expense of ten-man Valencia this evening.
There was all to play for with the tie finely balanced at 1-1 heading into tonight's second leg at the Nou Camp, and the hosts needed only 16 minutes to take the lead through a neat finish from Fabregas. Sofiane Feghouli was sent off for the visitors in the 76th minute for a second bookable offence and soon after Xavi eased any Barça nerves by grabbing his side's second goal.
Barça will now face Athletic Bilbao in the final after the Basque club completed an 8-3 aggregate win over Mirandes last night.
Valencia had a couple of early sights of goal this evening, but they were unable to work Jose Pinto in the Barça goal. Victor Ruiz failed to connect in the six-yard box in the third minute and then Feghouli lashed in a left-footed shot which whistled narrowly past the top-left corner.
The hosts went ahead on the quarter-hour mark, Fabregas dinking over Diego Alves with the outside of his right boot following a fine pass from Lionel Messi. Barça were beginning to gain a foothold as the game wore on, although Los Che remained a threat on the counter-attack.
Alves prevented Barça from going two up in the 18th minute, producing a brilliant save to keep out Messi after the Argentina forward had burst through on goal. Alexis Sanchez had another blast deflected wide in the 27th minute and Fabregas saw another drive stopped by Alves three minutes later as Pep Guardiola's side continued to push forward.
A last-gasp tackle from Gerard Pique denied Jonas a shooting opportunity nine minutes before the break when the Valencia forward looked to have found space. Valencia were almost back on level terms in the opening moments of the second half too, but Pinto got out well to block with his legs from Jordi Alba's angled shot.
The ever-lively Messi went within a whisker of extending his side's lead at the other end in the 54th minute after latching onto Isaac Cuenca's slick pass, the Ballon d'Or winner's effort deflected over the bar by Ruiz.
The visitors had a sniff of an equaliser soon after, when with Pinto in no-man's land, Aritz Aduriz sent over a cross. Javier Mascherano cleared the danger.
The action soon returned to the other end, where Messi capitalised on sloppy defending to go close again, but his only reward was a corner. Pinto had to be alert in the 73rd minute to tip a fierce attempt from Jonas over the bar for a corner.
Valencia's cause was not helped by the dismissal of Feghouli 14 minutes from time, the midfielder shown a second yellow card for a stray arm in the face of Carles Puyol.
Barça did not take long to capitalise on their numerical advantage. Messi's superb pass found Sanchez and he laid the ball off for Fabregas to tee up Xavi, who lashed a stunning shot into the roof of the net to put the result beyond doubt.
Messi could have added further gloss to the scoreline when he unleashed a brilliant free-kick in the 85th minute. Alves produced a magnificent right-handed save, but Barça were home and dry.