Barcelona blew their chance of a domestic Double as they lost 2-1 to Valencia in the final of the Copa del Rey despite Lionel Messi’s goal sparking a late fightback.
After the Champions League semi final collapse to Liverpool this was Barca’s chance to salvage their season, but the match didn’t pan out that way as the Catalans suffered a defeat that will surely call into question the future of Ernesto Valverde.
Injury ruled out Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez and their absence was noted from the start as Barca struggled to create in the final third. Instead, it was Valencia who took the lead when Kevin Gameiro fired high into the net after an excellent cut back by Jose Angel Gaya.
And Valencia made it 2-0 soon after, with Rodrigo heading from home from a Carlos Soler run and cross into the middle. Barcelona were dominating possession, but doing very little with it, relying too much on Messi to conjure up something special.
Malcom and Arturo Vidal were thrown on at half time, with the former making a difference. Messi gave Barcelona hope after 73 minutes, finishing from close range after a Clement Lenglet header had struck the post.
But there was to be no equaliser, despite heavy Barcelona pressure deep into stoppage time, as Valencia held on for an historic triumph, winning their first major honour since 2008 in their centenary year.
Dani Parejo copa
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Will this spell the end for Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona manager?
There was already speculation that Barcelona could make a managerial change this summer and that was on the presumption that they would complete a Liga and Copa double by winning this game. Now, the pressure on Valverde will be immense. Calls for him to be sacked will grow louder and louder. It’s difficult to see how he will survive this storm. Tonight might have been the moment his Barcelona tenure came to an end.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Dani Parejo (Valencia)
What a player. Dani Parejo didn’t get on the scoresheet, he didn’t even last the full 90 minutes after being forced off after the hour mark with an injury, but his performance lit up this Copa del Rey final. There were a number of star performers for Valencia - Gabriel Paulista, Jose Angel Gaya, Francis Coquelin and Rodrigo to name a few - but Parejo is a marvel of a footballer, the sort of player that would fit in at Barcelona. He showed all his attributes in this game.
Lionel Messi lors de la finale de la Copa del Rey entre le Barça et Valence
7’ Off the line! That was inches, maybe less, away from being an opener for Valencia! It was a mistake from Lenglet that presented Rodrigo with the chance, he rounded Cillessen, but Pique was back on the line to make the clearance!
21’ GOAL! Barcelona 0-1 Valencia: Valencia have taken the lead and what a strike it was from Gameiro! Gabriel played an amazing ball from deep to release Gaya down the left side, he picked out Gameiro in the middle and the French striker composed himself before lashing home a strike!
33’ GOAL! Barcelona 0-2 Valencia: Valencia have doubled their advantage and it's Rodrigo who has scored the second for his team! Soler surged down the right side of the pitch, he found Rodrigo in the middle with an excellent cross and the striker powered a header into the back of the net!
57’ OH MY GOD MESSI! That would have been one of the goals of the season! Messi played a one-two with Malcom and then struck an outside-of-the-boot strike off the inside of the far post! Vidal puts the rebound over.
66’ Parejo injury! This is a blow for Valencia! Their captain and best player has slumped to the ground. He seems to have a calf problem and will have to come off. He's been excellent tonight.
Dani Parejo levanta la copa delante de su afición
Image credit: Getty Images
73’ GOAL! Barcelona 1-2 Valencia: Here we go! The Barcelona comeback is on! Lenglet headed against the woodwork from a corner kick and Messi was on hand to finish from about two yards out! The Catalans have a foothold in this match! Finally!
94’ Had to finish it! What a chance for Valencia to finish this on the counter attack! Guedes was clean through, but the Valencia man sticks his low shot wide of the post. That looked destined to be the moment this was settled!
96’ GUEDES WAS THROUGH! How has he missed! Guedes had the goal gaping, Cillessen was up for a corner kick, there was nobody in the goal, but he somehow sends his shot wide! Wow!
After 21 previous attempts, Marcelino won his first game against Barcelona as a manager.
Lionel Messi became the first player in history to score in six different Copa del Rey finals (seven goals).
Barcelona conceded two goals in a first half of a Copa del Rey final for the first time since 1952 (also against Valencia).