Wednesday 21 February 2018

Neville in firing line after Barca run riot

Valencia coach Gary Neville
Valencia coach Gary Neville Newsdesk Newsdesk

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi both scored hat-tricks as Barcelona put one foot into their second successive Copa del Rey final after a 7-0 rout over 10-man Valencia in their semi-final first-leg at the Nou Camp.

On a dismal night for Gary Neville and his Valencia side, Suarez bagged an early brace before Lionel Messi scored twice either side of the interval to take his career tally to 500 goals. Neymar missed a penalty in a one-sided first half but his Argentinian counterpart completed his hat-trick late on. The Uruguayan then joined his striking partner by heading in his third before claiming a fourth in the closing stages.

Neville's side were looking to put their league woes behind them, having failed to register a win in eight La Liga games since the current England coach was appointed in December. The Copa del Rey has been a happy hunting ground for Valencia, however, as they reached the last four but the visitors got off the worst possible start on seven minutes. Neymar dispossessed Andre Gomes inside the Valencia half before playing in Suarez, who fired a low shot past Mathew Ryan.

He made it 33 goals in 33 appearances soon afterwards as Sergio Busquets floated in a beautifully weighted pass into the path of Alex Vidal, whose first-time pass was blasted past Ryan by the Uruguayan. Things got worse for Neville's side as the hosts grabbed a third goal from Messi on the half-hour mark.

And to compound a woeful first half for Valencia, Shkodran Mustafi was given his marching orders after denying Messi a goalscoring opportunity inside the box.

Neymar missed the spot-kick but Barca ran riot against the 10 men in the second half, adding four more goals, two apiece for the rampant Suarez and Messi, to pile the pressure on Neville.

Irish Independent

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