Coutinho scores first goal for Barcelona as they reach fifth-straight Copa final

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Source:

Associated Press

Philippe Coutinho scored his first goal since leaving Liverpool as Barcelona defeated Valencia 2-0 today to reach the Copa final for the fifth straight season.

FC Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring against Valencia during the Spanish Copa del Rey, semifinal, second leg.

FC Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho celebrates after scoring against Valencia during the Spanish Copa del Rey, semifinal, second leg.

Source: Associated Press

Ivan Rakitic also scored in the second leg of the semifinals, giving Barcelona a 3-0 win on aggregate after a 1-0 victory in the opener at Camp Nou Stadium.

The three-time defending champions next face Sevilla in a repeat of the 2016 final.

Valencia posed a tough challenge for Barcelona, creating some significant scoring chances at Mestalla Stadium, but the visitors opened the scoring in the 49th minute after Luis Suarez raced past a defender inside the area before crossing the ball to Coutinho.

The Brazilian playmaker, Barcelona's most expensive signing, slid to reach the ball and sent it toward the far corner.

Coutinho, making his fourth appearance since being signed in January, had only entered the match at halftime.

"It's a special moment for me," Coutinho said. "I had been trying to score this first goal. I finally got it today and it helped the team advance to the final."

Suarez also set up the second goal, finding Rakitic for an easy shot from inside the area after a breakaway in the 82nd minute.

Valencia forward Rodrigo hit the woodwork early in the match. It was the sixth straight loss for Valencia in all competitions.

"It hurts because we had high expectations coming into this match," Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech said. "But it wasn't meant to be. We need to work harder to try to turn things around."

Valencia was attempting to make it to the Copa final for the first time since 2007-08, when it won its seventh title after eliminating Barcelona in the semifinals.

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