Madrid, Feb 2: Forward Luis Suarez netted the only goal of the game to give FC Barcelona a slender 1-0 first leg win in their King’s Cup semi-final at home against Valencia.
Barcelona dominated most of the game against a rival who created few chances on Thursday, but were unable to create many clear cut opportunities to take a more convincing advantage into next week’s return leg, rports Xinhua news agency.
With a key league game against Espanyol on Sunday, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde fielded the same side which won 2-0 against Barca’s local rivals in the quarter-final return leg with no place in the side for new signings Yerry Mina and Phillipe Coutinho.
In front of a half-empty Camp Nou Stadium, Barca began by pressing Valencia and forced seven corners in the first 30 minutes but were unable to create clear-cut chances against the goal defended by Jaume Domenech.
The key moment in the first half was a bad challenge by Sergi Roberto on Andreas Pereira which saw the Valencia midfielder stay in the dressing room for the second half to be replaced by Nemanja Maksimovic.
Barca had better chances in the second half with Jaume saving a Messi free kick before the Argentinean crossed in the 66th minute for Suarez to head the only goal of the game.
The home side pressed hard for the second, with Messi going close on a couple of occasions, but were unable to net the second goal which would have all but assured the tie.
Valencia will have hopes of an epic fightback in front of their fans next week.