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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football Briefs: Coutinho scores first Barca goal to put club in Copa final

Football Briefs: Coutinho scores first Barca goal to put club in Copa final

February 09, 2018 10:11 IST

News of all that's transpired on and off the football field

FC Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho celebrates on scoring his first goal for the club during the Copa del Ray King's Cup semi-final against Valencia on Thursday

IMAGE: FC Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho celebrates on scoring his first goal for the club during the Copa del Ray King's Cup semi-final against Valencia on Thursday. Photograph: FC Barcelona/Twitter

Barcelona reached the King's Cup final for a record fifth year in a row on Thursday with a 2-0 second leg win at Valencia in which Philippe Coutinho scored his first goal for the club as they secured a 3-0 aggregate semi-final success.

Valencia bossed the first half at a packed Mestalla as the hosts chased down a 1-0 deficit but their hopes of a comeback were dashed when Brazilian Coutinho slid in to turn home a cross from his old Liverpool team mate Luis Suarez in the 49th minute.

 

Coutinho, who joined Barca from Liverpool for a club record 142 million pounds ($197.66 million) in January, had been on the pitch less than three minutes when he scored, while Ivan Rakitic stretched the visitors' lead eight minutes from time.

Barcelona have won the trophy for the last three years and face Sevilla in the final on April 21, a re-run of the 2016 showpiece which the Catalans won 2-0 after extra time.

Sevilla beat Leganes 2-0 on Wednesday in the other semi-final to advance 3-1 on aggregate.

"I feel very happy to be able to play in a final while being at the club for only a couple of months," Coutinho told reporters.

"We still have to play it and we've got a lot of things to do before the final.

"I have been trying to score since my first game and I'm happy to have done that, although the most important thing is that the team won the game and we are able to leave here happy.

"Everyone told me we could be the first team to reach five finals in a row, we all knew it and it's a great achievement."

Valencia were looking to reach the final for the first time in a decade and coach Marcelino deployed an attacking 4-3-3 formation which helped his side put Barca on the back foot in the early stages of the game.

Rodrigo Moreno came closest to scoring for the hosts when he crashed a header against the bar in the 13th minute and the Spain international was thwarted again later in the half by Barca goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

West Brom's Rodriguez charged over alleged racial abuse: FA

West Bromwich Albion striker Jay Rodriguez was charged by the FA on Thursday following allegations he racially abused Brighton and Hove Albion defender Gaetan Bong during a Premier League match last month.

Cameroon international Bong said Rodriguez abused him during West Brom's 2-0 home win last month.

"Jay Rodriguez has been charged following an incident during the West Bromwich Albion versus Brighton and Hove Albion match on 13 January 2018," the FA said in a statement.

"It is alleged he used abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race."

“As a Club we remain fully supportive and committed to backing Jay throughout this process," West Brom Director of Football Administration Richard Garlick said in a statement on the club website.

Rodriguez, 28, has until February 16 to respond to the charge.

PSG’s Mbappe gets two-match ban, free to face Marseille

Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe will be back from suspension to face Ligue 1 title rivals Olympique de Marseille later this month after being handed a two-match ban on Thursday by the league's disciplinary commission.

France international Mbappe, 19, was sent off for a rough challenge on Ismaila Sarr in PSG's 3-2 League Cup semi-final win against Stade Rennes last week.

He was automatically suspended from last weekend’s game at Lille and must also sit out this month's fixture with Strasbourg but Thursday's decision, which takes effect from Monday, means he can play against Toulouse on Saturday and OM on Feb. 25.

PSG are 11 points clear of second-placed Marseille.

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