Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo both netted as a valiant Valencia beat La Liga champions Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey.
Ernesto Valverde’s men said in the build-up that a win would help ease some of the pain of their Champions League loss to Liverpool, but they were sub-par again as Valencia ended their double-dream.
Valencia could have taken the lead as early as the eighth minute when Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet played a woeful pass along his own area only to find Rodrigo.
But fortunately for the Frenchman his centre-back partner Gerard Pique was on hand to clear the Spain international’s shot off the line.
However, there was no stopping Gameiro’s opener following good work down the left from Jose Gaya. The left-back picked out the French striker just inside the area, who then launched a full-blooded drive high past the reach of Jasper Cillessen.
Twelve minutes later it was 2-0. Rodrigo, who caused plenty of problems for Barca’s backline, timed his run into the six-yard area perfectly to nod home Carlos Soler’s cross.
Messi, who does have a habit of easing himself into games, tested opposition keeper Jaume Domenech for the first time just before the break before his full abilities came to the fore after the break.
The Argentine had one shot, with the outside of his boot, come off the post before he forced Domenech into making a stunning one-handed save.
Messi finally found the net with his 28th goal against Valencia in all competitions. Lenglet’s header from a corner rebounded off the post and the Barca captain tapped in from close range.
The expected onslaught in the final 15 minutes never happened, rather, Valencia could have twice extended their lead but for the woeful finishing of Goncalo Guedes.