Barcelona hit seven against Valencia in Copa

Andy West 08:00 04/02/2016
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Chastened: Gary Neville.

Barcelona destroyed hopeless Valencia with a brilliant performance to effectively book their place in the Copa del Rey final and pile more pressure on Gary Neville.

The rout began appropriately when Valencia midfielder Andre Gomes carelessly conceded possession inside his own half, allowing Neymar to race away and play a square pass to Luis Suarez, who rifled a fierce drive past Mat Ryan.

Five minutes later it was 2-0 as Sergio Busquets was given space to pick out a wonderful diagonal pass to the overlapping Aleix Vidal, who laid the ball back first-time for Suarez to sweep high into the net.

Barca were toying with the visitors, producing some magnificent one-touch football to draw regular gasps of astonishment from the home crowd – if anything, they were guilty of over-playing the ball around the edge of Valencia’s area.

But they would not be denied for long, taking advantage of the open spaces as Andres Iniesta played a pass inside which Neymar and Suarez both dummied, allowing Lionel Messi to stride through and score.

It was nearly four when Suarez broke brilliantly down the left and found Messi, who hit the crossbar.

On the stroke of half-time Valencia were harshly reduced to 10 men when Shkodran Mustafi was sent off for a challenge on Messi inside the area despite winning the ball, but there was some reprieve for the visitors as Neymar sent his penalty against the post.

More goals were regularly threatened from the start of the second half, with Arda Turan thumping a shot straight at Ryan, Gerard Pique heading over the top when left unmarked from a corner and Busquets swinging an effort too high.

Barca fans greatly amused themselves by giving an enormous ovation to Valencia debutant sub Denis Cheryshev, who was inadvertently responsible for getting Real Madrid kicked out of the competition after they fielded him while ineligible.

But they soon returned to a more familiar chant as Messi skipped inside to fire home his second. And Messi completed his hat-trick by picking up a loose ball and firing a shot which squirmed past Ryan before a sixth was claimed by Suarez who claimed his own treble by heading in Adriano’s cross. The Uruguayan then added another on the turn to make it seven.

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