Barca salvage 1-1 King's Cup draw against improved Valencia

(Reuters) - Cameroonian teenager Wilfrid Kaptoum scored a late equaliser to give Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Valencia that wrapped up an 8-1 aggregate success in their King’s Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Valencia's coach Gary Neville attends a news conference. REUTERS/Heino Kalis

The second-leg result, which denied home coach Gary Neville a much-needed first win in four matches, was academic after Barcelona had crushed Valencia 7-0 in the first leg at the Nou Camp.

Barca, who went through to their sixth final in eight seasons, will face Celta Vigo or Sevilla in the showpiece match.

“I’m very happy to play another final... It’s one of the nicest matches of the season,” Barca coach Luis Enrique told reporters.

The draw was Barcelona’s 29th match unbeaten and Luis Enrique’s side surpassed the previous best mark set by former boss Pep Guardiola in the 2010-11 season.

Alvaro Negredo put Valencia in front in the 39th minute after goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen had parried his first effort but the ball fell nicely back to the striker to tap home.

It was Valencia’s first goal in four games since Rodrigo scored in the second leg of their Cup quarter-final win over Las Palmas on Jan. 28.

Kaptoum found the net two minutes after coming on as a substitute eight minutes from time.

Luis Enrique rested nearly all his first-choice players, making eight changes from the first leg with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique all missing the game.

“This club has a capacity for reinventing itself, a clear footballing idea, a profile of unique players who stand out and enjoy what they do,” said Luis Enrique of the young players he drafted seamlessly into Barcelona’s typical passing game.

He commented on the lack of atmosphere in the half-empty Mestalla stadium.

“It was a bit strange due to the (7-0) result we brought here,” he said.

Neville, his eye on Saturday’s critical La Liga match at home to Espanyol when he will be looking for a first win in 10 league games in charge, also rested a number of first-choice players.

The former England defender will have been pleased, however, with his team’s attitude and commitment with many fans staying away or outside the ground voicing their disappointment and anger with their struggling team.

“The positive thing from this game has been the performance of some of the younger players. I think that we deserved to win, and they played with dignity,” Neville said.

“Mestalla will be full on Saturday, and the atmosphere will be electric. We need the fans more than ever on Saturday.”

Reporting by Rex Gowar; editing by Ed Osmond