Messi puts Barca on road to Copa final

Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi (R) celebrate a goal against Villarreal

LUIS SUAREZ had the Barcelona fans chanting his name after he set up Lionel Messi (pictured) to score the opening goal in a 3-1 victory for the record winners in their King's Cup semi-final, first leg at home to Villarreal.

Uruguay forward Suarez won possession in the Villarreal half in the 41st minute at the Nou Camp before laying a perfect pass into Messi's path for the Argentina captain to sweep a first-time shot past Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.

Barca squandered a series of chances before Villarreal levelled three minutes into the second period after home keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen let a long-range Manuel Trigueros shot straight through his hands.

Andres Iniesta put Barca back in front a minute later when he fired a loose ball low into the net and Gerard Pique made it 3-1 in the 64th minute with a header from a Messi corner.

Messi would normally have taken the spot-kick when Barca were awarded a penalty for a Mateo Musacchio handball in the 70th minute but after he stepped aside to allow Neymar a chance the Brazil captain had his effort well saved by Asenjo. Suarez won more appreciation from the home support in stoppage time when he almost caught Asenjo off his line with a lobbed shot from near the halfway line but the ball drifted narrowly wide with the keeper beaten.

Barca's 10th consecutive win in all competitions put them in a strong position to advance to May's final after the return at the Madrigal in three weeks.