Valencia vs. Barcelona: 2016 Copa del Rey Semi-Final, Leg 2 Score and Reaction

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Valencia vs. Barcelona: 2016 Copa del Rey Semi-Final, Leg 2 Score and Reaction
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Valencia surrendered a lead to Barcelona with only six minutes on the clock at the Mestalla Stadium as the teams drew 1-1 in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, with Barca winning 8-1 on aggregate on Wednesday.

A goal from Alvaro Negredo broke the deadlock for Los Che shortly before the interval, but a late strike by teenager Wilfrid Kaptoum saved the Blaugrana on the night.

The contest was an awful spectacle as fans stayed away in droves. Valencia coach Gary Neville's tenure continues to fester as he searches for his first victory in charge.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all given the night off by manager Luis Enrique, who omitted the three superstars from his match squad. Neville made eight changes to his side that lost to Real Betis in La Liga, freshening up his options against the depleted treble winners.

Journalist Rik Sharma commented on the discourse outside of the Mestalla before kick-off:

Barca dominated the early exchanges as midfield maestro Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings while surrounded by a wealth of talented youth.   

There was a strange atmosphere at the Mestalla as the game progressed, with Neville's men residing seven goals down, and Eurosport shared a photo of the near-empty stadium:

JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images

Blaugrana player Munir El Haddadi looked impressive as he drifted in from the right, with the 20-year-old often beating his marker to bear down on goal.

Valencia threatened intermittently as they attempted to counter-attack against their illustrious opponents, and Negredo was expertly denied by Jeremy Mathieu's clever block.

It was the hosts who broke the deadlock six minutes before the break, as Negredo pounced for Los Che.

The striker skipped past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, getting a lucky break as the ball rebounded off him, and Negredo slotted away the easiest of finishes.

ESPN's Dermot Corrigan called the action: shared the vital statistics at half-time, displaying that Barca's young side kept the ball better than Neville's team:

Valencia still had six goals to find to achieve a result, and the hopelessness of their task reflected in their lifeless play.

The second half opened with a void of action, as both teams went through the motions in order to achieve the inevitable.

Corrigan was not impressed by what he was watching and, citing MisterChip, confirmed the dire attendance:

Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

The match petered out into a nonevent, as the tie appeared to labour towards Neville's first win in charge of his club. 

However, the victory was chalked off with only six minutes on the clock as 19-year-old sub Kaptoum stole a draw for the Catalans.

The Cameroonian midfielder had only been on the pitch for two minutes before beautifully placing his shot into the bottom corner.

Sharma commented on Neville's unbelievable luck:

Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

In a game that had no meaning, the draw will once again sting the English coach, whose days in Spain appear numbered.

Valencia could not beat the youngsters of Barcelona despite holding a lead into the final moments, and it's back to the drawing board for Los Che as they look to salvage their season and their pride.

Post-Match Reaction

Enrique was content at the end of the contest and explained his thoughts about progressing towards further silverware, per the club's official website:

At Barca we’re very used to playing in finals. But it is very difficult to get this far and we’re really looking forward to it. It says a lot for this club’s ability to reinvent itself. We’re delighted.

We changed the system to give a chance to the players that don’t get too many. They generally did well in terms of intensity.

The team looked very complete even though I tried out some different positions. We had no out and out centre forward, but with Rakitic playing in the middle of the attack things worked well.

The record is just numbers. So let’s see if those numbers are good enough to bring us titles.

Barca are expected to face Sevilla in the final, who hold a four-goal advantage as they go into their semi-final second-leg clash with Celta Vigo on Thursday. 

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