FC Barcelona 1 – 2 Valencia: The Cup slips away
First half goals by Gameiro and Rodrigo are decisive in a final that was a battle to the end
Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno scored in the first half to lead Valencia CF to a 2-1 victory over FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday night at the Estadio Benito Villamarín in Seville, Spain.
Lionel Messi pulled one back for Barça in the second half, and the Catalans made a furious push for a late equalizer, but the Valencia defense held out to deliver their first Copa del Rey title since 2008.
At the same time, Barça, which came into the final as the four-time defending champions, lost out on becoming the first club in Spanish history to win the competition five years in a row, and thus end the 2018-19 season having won the Spanish Super Cup and La Liga.
The final got off to an ominous start for Barça, when in the 5th minute center back Gerard Piqué cleared the ball off the goal line after Rodrigo pounced on an errant pass deep in the Barca end and went around goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen to take a shot from a wide angle. Clement Lenglet had initially made a nice play to cut off a long ball to the right wing, but his pass across the middle to Piqué went straight to Rodrigo.
In the 22nd minute, after a long stretch in which Barça dominated possession, Valencia settled in, and moments after crossing midfield, Kevin Gameiro scored to make it 1-0, taking a cross from Gayà on the left wing and firing into the upper right corner. Cillessen was screened by Lenglet on the play and could not react in time.
Valencia made it 2-0 in the 33rd. Rodrigo headed in from the doorstep after Carlos Soler beat Jordi Alba to a through ball on the right wing and sent a cross to Rodrigo in the goalmouth.
Messi had a pair of shots on goal late in the first half, but Valencia goalkeeper Jaume was up to the task. Rakitic also had a look that was easily stopped.
Arturo Vidal and Malcom came on at halftime for Arthur and Nelson Semedo.
Messi tried to put the team on his back in the second half. In the 51st, he had a free kick that deflected off the wall. In the 56th, he played a nice give and go with Malcom, but Messi's shot with the outside of his left foot clanged off the far post. The rebound fell to Vidal, but the Chilean’s one-time volley went well high.
In the 74th, Messi pulled one back after Lenglet’s header on a corner kick was saved, with the rebound going straight to Messi on the doorstep, and the Argentinian easily cashed in.
It was almost all Barça on possession for the remainder, but Valencia had all 11 players behind the ball to close up space and make it as difficult as possible for the Catalans to break through.
Five minutes of injury time were announced with Barca still pressing high up the field. In the final two minutes of injury time, Valencia had three chances to ice the game but couldn’t. First, a breakaway led to a shot wide, followed by a three on one that ended with Piqué deflecting the ball back towards Cillessen. And finally, another odd man rush with no goalkeeper in the Barça net ended with a chip from long range that went wide. Valencia didn’t score, but those plays wiped away whatever was left in injury time, handing Barca a defeat in their final game of the season.