Valencia beat Barcelona 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday May 25th to win their first trophy since 2008. Two first half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo were enough to hold off a second-half fight back in which Lionel Messi pulled a goal back for the Catalans.
Valencia almost took the lead just five minutes into the game as a mistake by Clement Lenglet put Rodrigo through on goal, the Spanish striker went around the goalkeeper, but saw his shot cleared off the line by Gerard Pique.
Barcelona as expected were having lots of possession, but they lacked a cutting edge as they struggled to break down a stubborn defence. Valencia took the lead in the 21st minute, Jose Gaya’s low cross found Gameiro who struck a powerful shot past goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and into the net.
They doubled their lead just past the half hour mark. Carlos Soler outpaced Jordi Alba on the righthand side before his cross was headed in to the net from close-range by Rodrigo. Barca started to come to life late in the first-half as both Messi and Ivan Rakitic had efforts saved by goalkeeper Jaume Doménech.
Goncalo Guedes fired a shot wide of the post early in the second-half as the underdogs searched for a killer third goal. Not long after, Messi dribbled in the area and struck a shot off the post before Arturo Vidal fired over from the rebound.
The pressure was starting to build as Gerard Pique struck a shot wide in the 71st minute after being played in by Malcolm. Barca pulled a goal back a minute later as Lenglet’s header from Malcolm’s corner was saved, allowing Messi to tap in from the rebound.
Valencia held out for the final 20 minutes to win their first major trophy since their last Copa del Rey win in 2008. AFP reported that Valencia’s head coach, Marcelino, who was close to being sacked earlier in the season, praised his side. "We always had faith," said Marcelino. "Beating Barcelona to win the cup is very special. We deserved to win."
Barca’s head coach, Ernesto Valverde, who has been under pressure since the Champions League defeat to Liverpool, is expected to come under more scrutiny. But the 55-year-old said he wanted to keep going. "I'm fine," Valverde said. "When a coach loses you want to go again, to fight to overcome the next challenge. I know losing for this club is hard."
According to AFP, Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, defended the manager and said he wants to keep him at the club next season. "I've always said that Ernesto has a contract for the next season, he's the coach. Today I think we have to say that I do not think this defeat is the coach's fault."
He also said that the season was not a “failure”. "It is not a failure," Bartomeu said. "It is not remarkable or excellent, but it is a very good season because winning the league is always the goal we have. We fought in the final of the cup, we have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. We always try to reach the end of the season with chances to win titles and, in the end, we lost two games."