Coutinho on target as Barca Reach Copa Final

Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to score his first goal for Barcelona in a 2-0 win at Valencia on Thursday that saw them cruise into another Copa del Rey final.

It was the first time Coutinho, 25, had found the net since his blockbuster €160 million move from Liverpool in early January.

Ivan Rakitic netted a second goal late on as holders Barcelona secured a place in the final for the fifth successive season.

“For me it is my first final, so it is a very special moment,” Coutinho told Spanish TV station Gol.

“I am very happy. I had been searching for this goal in my first few matches. Today I got it and it helped the team get through to the final.”

Valencia had a chance to level the tie when Rodrigo’s header beat Jasper Cillessen in the Barca goal only to come back off the bar.

And though Lionel Messi had come close on a couple of occasions for the visitors in the first half, it was the introduction of Coutinho that swung the tie decisively their way.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde sent his recent recruit on in place of Andre Gomes at half-time, and Coutinho quickly made his mark, sweeping in a Suarez cross at the back post.

Valencia had centre-back Ezequiel Garay carried off and then saw Cillessen make an incredible save to deny Jose Gaya from point-blank range in the 74th minute.

But things got worse for the hosts when Suarez pounced on a Gabriel Paulista error and set up Rakitic to make it 2-0.

The Blaugrana will face Sevilla in the final in April as they remain on course for another astonishing treble – their third in a decade.

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