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After drawing 1-1 in Valencia on Wednesday night, Barça have not only made it through to the Copa del Rey final for an impressive sixth time in eight years, but they have also set a new record in Spanish football by going 29 official matches without defeat.
With a seven-goal head start, the Catalans were effectively through to final before a ball had been kicked at Mestalla, so it was little surprise that Luis Enrique opted to rest players for more decisive matches, including all three of the famous trident. All the same, the only reserve team player included in the starting eleven was Sergi Samper on the right of the midfield.
Played in front of a half-empty stadium, in a mood that often felt more like a pre-season friendly than a cup semi-final, the game was never going to be a classic. Barça provided most of the early football, with Munir and Rakitic coming closest to scoring, but as the first half progressed Valencia became more and more active.
Piatti and Villalba had both had chances for the home side before the 39th minute when Negredo was put through one-on-one with Ter Stegen. His attempted chip bounced off the German keeper’s chest and back into his path, and Barça’s lead had been cut to six. That was the only goal of a drama-free first 45 minutes.
The second half didn’t produce too much in the way of action either. It took 20 minutes for anything to truly test either of the defences, a wonderful move by Rakitic to slip through two men but his shot was fired directly at Valencia keeper Jaume. Shortly after Ter Stegen was called into action to deny Danilo with the finest save of the night.
Kaptoum helps make history
As the minutes ticked by without major incident, Rakitic, Adriano and Sandro were replaced by Douglas, Cámara and Kaptoum. And the same three substitutes, in that order, were involved in Barça’s equaliser after 84 minutes, the Cameroonian converting Cámara’s cross with practically his first touch of the ball.
The goal meant nothing in terms of the outcome of the semi-final, but it did ensure yet another historic accomplishment by this amazing Barça side. It meant that they have now gone for a staggering 29 official matches without defeat, an all-time record in Spanish football!
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