Juan Mata’s late strike gave holders Valencia a 3-2 victory over Sevilla in the first leg of their King’s Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.
In the night’s other first leg, Barcelona were held to a goalless draw at city rivals Espanyol.
Mata grabbed a valuable lead for Valencia before next week’s return leg in Seville when he picked up the ball in the area in the 86th minute and unleashed a low drive that spooned up off defender Sebastien Squillaci into the net.
A howler by Adriano Correia had gifted Valencia their opening goal after five minutes. David Villa intercepted the Brazilian’s wayward back pass and rounded ’keeper Andres Palop to score.
Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez brought on winger Diego Capel at the break and his cross from the right created the equalizer.
Valencia keeper Vicente Guaita rushed off his line but missed an attempted punch and Luis Fabiano leapt to nod the ball home.
The Valencia players were furious with the officials after Correia made it 2-1 on 67 minutes.
Replays showed the Brazilian offside when the ball was played through but the referee allowed the goal to stand after Correia sent a crisp finish past Guaita.
Ruben Baraja equalized in the 84th minute and Valencia’s efforts to find a winner were rewarded when Joaquin released Mata to score two minutes later.
Barcelona’s cause was not helped when they lost Mexico defender Rafael Marquez in the 10th minute with a left leg injury.
Not even the introduction of Messi and Xavi midway through the second half could open up the home side’s defense and the match stuttered to a draw.