BARCELONA – FC Barcelona eked out a 1-0 win against a defensive-minded Valencia side on Thursday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal tie.
The talent-laden defending Copa champions and La Liga leaders dominated possession from the start, but struggled to create chances in the face of the tactical discipline of their opponents.
Valencia’s back line succeeded in forcing Barça to the outside throughout the first half. The home side’s best moment before the break came in the 39th minute on a Jordi Alba cross that tracked in front of the net, just out of reach of Luis Suarez.
The visitors were more adventurous in the second half and finally managed a shot on goal in the 51st minute, a Dani Parejo effort smothered by Barça goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
The deadlock continued until Suarez got his head to a Lionel Messi cross in the 67th minute, which turned out to be the signal for a Barcelona offensive onslaught that sorely tested Valencia’s defensive scheme.