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Coutinho debuts, Messi, Suarez score as Barcelona advances in Copa

Philippe Coutinho

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 25: Philippe Coutinho of FC Barcelona conducts the ball during the Spanish Copa del Rey Quarter Final Second Leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou stadium at Camp Nou on January 25, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

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MADRID (AP) Goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez guided Barcelona to a 2-0 victory over city rival Espanyol on Thursday and a place in the Copa del Rey semifinals.

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Barcelona had lost the first leg 1-0 last week, but quickly evened the series when Suarez headed home less than 10 minutes into the match at Camp Nou. Messi scored the goal that secured a 2-1 win on aggregate midway through the first half.

The match marked the debut of new Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho, who came off the bench in the second half to replace Andres Iniesta.

Coutinho arrived from Liverpool at the beginning of the month but had been sidelined by a right leg muscle injury. The Brazilian playmaker was signed in a transfer worth up to 160 million euros (then $192 million), making him Barcelona’s most expensive player ever.

It’s the eighth straight season that Barcelona has made it to the Copa semifinals, having won the title for the last three years.


More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

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