Barcelona booked their place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals on Thursday night after beating city rivals Espanyol 2-0 at Camp Nou and overturning a first leg deficit.

Goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in the first 25 minutes secured the result and progress to the next round, with coach Ernesto Valverde delighted to see his team 'compete well'.


"In the cup there are no easy matches and Espanyol kept us alert until the last moment," he further explained (

But more than just a routine win, the game represented much more as €160m January signing Philippe Coutinho emerged from the bench to make his eagerly awaited Barça debut.

Wearing the number 14 shirt, the Brazilian replaced club captain Andres Iniesta in the 68th minute, a switch many people believe might now be indicative of the longer-term picture at Camp Nou.

"We have high hopes for him and we know that he can help us," Valverde said of Coutinho.

"He creates good situations and when he's near the area he can be dangerous. The game was not simple, but he played well and we are happy with his debut."

Long serving centre-back Gerard Pique commented, "Coutinho has the right style for Barça and he is a player who is similar to Iniesta in many ways."

Left-back Jordi Alba, meanwhile, labelled the new signing a 'great player'.

A contented Coutinho said of his night, "I'm very happy here and excited, and the reception I received was very special. I was anxious and nervous to begin with, but I'm very happy about the win, which was the most important thing."