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Match Report: Valencia 3 Barcelona 2

Barça were comprehensively outfought by a mediocre Valencia team who now go on to face Getafe in the final. Frank Rijkaard made just two changes to the team that drew at Almeria, Yaya Toure came in for Edmilson while Zambrotta returned at right back which meant Puyol moved to centre back in place of Thuram. The changes looked like it would lead to an improvement but instead things just got worse.
Barça began promisingly creating the first couple of chances, after just three minutes Milito met Xavi’s corner with a firm header that was headed onto his own crossbar by Maduro, and then a couple of minutes later Iniesta hit a shot from 25 yards that Hildebrand saved. However, from then on it was Valencia who looked the more dangerous and after 14 minutes they gave the first warning when Silva failed to get a foot on Villa’s cross-shot and the ball went wide.
Then on 18 minutes Zambrotta gave the ball away deep in Barça’s half, the ball was then cleared by Puyol but only as far as Ruben Baraja who hit a screamer from outside the area that flew past Valdés into the top corner. Barça failed to react and the midfield were short on ideas, only Iniesta who was playing more as a left sided midfielder showed any inspiration, while Bojan and Eto’o looked lost up front. Barça had a few timid attempts on goal the best of which was another header from Milito that went straight at Hildebrand.
A minute before half time Puyol, Toure and Milito interchanged passes as they failed to find a forward pass until Milito finally gave the ball away, Valencia immediately stormed forward and Milito, Zambrotta and Puyol failed to stop Villa crossing to Mata who beat Valdés at his near post. Most goals involve a defensive error, this one involved several.
Barça didn’t react in the second half, and Henry’s entrance in place of Toure failed to make any immediate impact. There were more timid efforts from Henry, Xavi and Eto’o but with each miss the heads seemed to drop a bit more. Sylvinho came on for Abidal and Rijkaard moved Bojan into the middle and Eto’o out to the right where he once again showed he is not suited to play. Bojan, however, did improve in the middle after having a horrible game on the wing, and he provided a couple of runs that slightly raised hopes.
Then out of the blue a Sylvinho cross was met by Henry, who until then looked as though he had just got out of bed, and his header went in off the post. As Barça still celebrated Valencia went straight up the other end and scored a third: Milito allowed Arizmendi time to prepare a cross and Zambrotta failed to pick up Mata at the far post who beat Valdés and Xavi on the line.
Henry then had a great chance but he was too slow and a defender got a foot in, and then on 80 minutes Eto’o got a nice rebound of the defence before curling a neat left footer into the far post. Suddenly Barça came alive, and as Valencia defended deeper and deeper, it seemed as if they were there for the taking. However, despite an exciting late surge Barça’s mistakes continued and they failed to take advantage of Valencia’s nerves
Barça: Valdés; Zambrotta (Edmilson m81), Puyol, Milito, Abidal (Sylvinho m61); Xavi, Toure (Henry m51), Gudjohnsen; Bojan, Eto’o, Iniesta
Goals: 18′ Baraja 1-0, 45′ Mata 2-0, 72′ Henry 2-1, 73′ Mata 3-1, 80′ Eto’o 3-2

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