In-form striker Luis Suarez scored a diving header as Barcelona beat Valencia 1-0 on Thursday to inch closer to a place in the King’s Cup final.
The Catalans now need to avoid defeat in the second-leg to reach a record fifth consecutive King’s Cup final as they remain on course for a treble.
In a keenly contested affair at a rather sparse Camp Nou, Suarez broke Valencia’s resolve by leaping to meet a cross from Lionel Messi in the 67th minute.
It was a 12th goal in 10 games in all competitions for the Uruguayan, and leaves Valencia needing to win by two goals in next Thursday’s second leg at Mestalla to advance to their first final in a decade.
“We dominated the play but they had a plan, which was to leave here with a result that kept the tie open and they defended well. It’s not a big advantage and there’s still a long way to go in the tie,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde told reporters.
Valencia were hammered 7-0 on their last Cup visit to Barcelona when Gary Neville was in charge and coach Marcelino Toral opted for a cautious approach.
Los Che’s best chances came from distance strikes at goal, with Martin Montoya and Francis Coquelin narrowly missing the target either side of halftime.
There’s still all to play for next week at the Mestella…