Barcelona on course for final despite Messi penalty miss
Feb 1, 2012, 22:48 GMT
Madrid - Barcelona are on course to reach the final of the Spanish cup after battling out a 1-1 draw at Valencia in the first leg of a fascinating semi-final.
Brazilian striker Jonas gave Valencia the lead, only for Barca's 'Captain Marvel' Carles Puyol to quickly equalize.
FIFA World Player Lionel Messi missed a penalty for Barca, his second spot-kick error of the season.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola left Dani Alves and Xavi on the bench, despite his many injury problems.
Valencia boss Unai Emery repeated the double left-back combination of Jordi Alba and Jeremy Mathieu, which caused Barca so many problems in their 2-2 league draw in September. The formula worked again, because in the 28th minute Mathieu powered his way down the left and set up Jonas to make it 1-0 from close range.
Eight minutes later, Puyol levelled with one of his trademark headers from a corner, with Valencia keeper Diego Alves looking shaky.
Barca dominated the second half but failed to score again. In the 57th minute they were given a penalty for a foul by Miguel on Thiago, but Alves made amends for his mistake on the equalizer by saving Messi's spot-kick.
Dani Alves then came off the bench and hit the Valencia post after a clever one-two with Messi.
Valencia were relieved to hear the final whistle, though the draw obliges them to win the second leg on February 8 in Barca's Camp Nou.
In the other semi-final, which started Tuesday, Athletic Bilbao are in the driving seat after winning 2-1 at Mirandes.
Mirandes are a team of third-division part-timers, who reached the semis by eliminating first-division sides Espanyol and Villarreal.
The second leg of that tie will be played on February 7 in Bilbao.