FC Barcelona booked their third Copa del Rey football final appearance in four years with a 2-0 win at home to Valencia Wednesday. The win gives Barca a 3-1 aggregate win and they will face Athletic Club Bilbao in a repeat of the 2009 final, which Barca won 4-1. Barcelona had not been convincing in the first leg against Valencia or in last weekend's home league game against Real Sociedad.
Valencia, meanwhile, were handicapped by a bout of flu which left top scoring striker Roberto Soldado in the team hotel and gave Aritz Aduriz the responsibility of finding the net. Although Valencia created chances with a series of set pieces in the opening five minutes, Barca soon took control of the ball and Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring after 14 minutes. The former Arsenal captain ran onto a through ball from Lionel Messi and lifted the ball over advancing Valencia keeper Diego Alves.
That was the start of a series of chances for Barca: Issac Cuenca fired over, Alexis Sanchez saw a shot saved and Cesc should have scored again following an error from Victor Ruiz only to be denied by Alves.
The second half began with Jose Pinto reacting well to deny Jordi Alba as Valencia came out looking to get back on level terms, while at the other end, Messi continued to cause problems in what was turning into a thrilling end to end game.
Valencia's chances took a dive after 76 minutes after Sophane Feghouli was sent off for a second yellow card after pushing his hand into Gerard Pique's face. Xavi doubled Barca's lead after a flowing passing move with 12 minutes left to effectively kill off the tie.
Caceres brace in juventus win
Rome: Thanks to a brace from Martin Caceres, Juventus beat AC Milan 2-1 at the San Siro in the first leg of the Coppa Italia football semifinals Wednesday.
Stephan El Shaarawy equalised for the hosts just after the hour mark in the first leg only for the Uruguayan Caceres to net a superb late winner for the Serie A leaders.
Juventus head coach Antonio Conte hailed his side's win. "It is not just the result that counts, but the introduction of the newcomers who had a great game. I think this victory shows what hard work is behind the team, which allows us to rotate the squad without damaging the performance. This team has players who want to dream and know in order to achieve that dream they need to work, work, work," he said.
The first goal came in the 53rd minute as Caceres followed up to tap home a deflected shot of Borriello.
Alessandro Del Piero almost made it two with a shot which flashed just wide, but instead Milan levelled in the 62nd minute through El Shaarawy who nodded home from close range after getting on the end of Massimo Ambrosini's header. Caceres stuck a fantastic second in the 83rd minute, picking out the top left-hand corner with a right-footed shot from outside the area.
Real Madrid, Barca top rich list
Madrid: Real Madrid and Barcelona are football's biggest moneymakers for the third straight year according to the annual review of football finance by Deloitte.