Barça managed to get a valuable draw in Valencia in the first leg of the Cup semifinal, in a game where Jonas put the home side ahead, and Puyol equalised with a header. The Camp Nou will decide who’ll go through to the Final.
The Cup produced fireworks once again. In an electric match, Valencia and Barcelona came out even in a match where Jonas put the home side ahead before Puyol equalised with a header from a corner. The goals aside, Guardiola's team were on top from start to finish and deserved better luck in Mestalla, where Messi missed a penalty and Dani Alves thundered a shot against the post in the second half.
Nevertheless, the draw and the great football produced by Barça, will send them with optimism into the return leg at the Nou Camp, which will be played next Wednesday (21.00h).
The semifinal started with Barça well on top. Playing in the opposition's half, Guardiola's players combined well against a Valencia outfit that, when they had the ball, probed away down their left wing, a ploy that worked for them against Barça in the League match. This time it also worked: a run down the left from Mathieu ended with a shot from Jonas that beat Pinto.
Before the 1-0, Messi almost scored the first with a free-kick that went close, and Valencia appealed for a red card for Pinto, for handling outside his area. After this, Barça continued to dominate the game. They just lacked the final pass, the decisive one, but it came after a move where Alexis just failed to beat Alves in the Valencia goal, and the ball went out for a corner. The equalising goal came from the resultant corner, and it was a replica of the Barça goal at the Bernabeu, in terms of the goalscorer. Puyol, at the far post, scored the valuable equaliser with a terrific downward header just inside the post.
The second half saw Barça in charge once again. In the first dangerous move the referee disallowed a goal by Alexis, for off-side, and, shortly after, Miguel brought down Thiago inside the area to give away a penalty. Diego Alves guessed Messi's intentions and saved the spot-kick to keep the score at 1-1, a save that was reminiscent of the one by Varas at the Camp Nou.
Just like after conceding the first goal, Barça responded in style, with their classic football, and laid siege to the Valencia goal. In one of their many attacks, Alves, who came on for Alexis, was on the verge of putting Barça ahead with a shot that came back off the far post. Only a bit of luck, and finesse inside the area, prevented Barça from coming away from Valencia with a win. Still, the result is a good one with the second leg to be played at the Camp Nou next Wednesday (21.00h). (via FCBarcelona.cat)
Valencia CF Diego Alves; Miguel, Rami, Víctor Ruiz, Mathieu; Albelda (Tino Costa, min. 66), Banega; Piatti (Feghouli, min. 58), Jonas (Aduriz, min. 75), Jordi Alba and Soldado.
FC Barcelona Pinto; Puyol, Piqué, Mascherano, Abidal; Sergio, Thiago (Jonathan dos Santos, min. 79), Cesc; Alexis (Dani Alves, min. 63), Messi and Cuenca (Tello, min. 87).
Goals: 1-0, min. 26. Center of Mathieu and shot of Jonas, unstoppable for Pinto.1-1, min. 35. Corner to the right of Diego Alves that Cesc takes out the second stick and Puyol, winning the departure to Victor Ruiz, it finishes off dive to the net.
Referee: González González (Castilian-Leonese). Showed yellow cards to the valencianistas Jonas, Banega, Albelda, Victor Ruiz, Jordi Alba and Mathieu and to the barcelonistas Mascherano and Pinto.
Incidents: 51,800 spectators at the Mestalla in the cold night with intermittent rain.