Valencia will claim that Barcelona should have been down to 10 men early in their match, but it's hard to believe that they would have pulled off a much better result than they gained in the end. Los Che put together one great attack, while Diego Alves was brilliant in net in a 1-1 draw at the Mestalla. The two sides will play the second leg of their Copa Del Rey semifinal next week at Camp Nou.
The major controversy came in the opening 15 minutes, when Barcelona keeper Jose Manuel Pinto rushed out to clear the ball away from Roberto Soldado. He clearly handled the ball outside of the 18-yard area to deny a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the striker, but the referee missed the incident.
Valencia would strike first, however, on a fantastic counter-attack. Jordi Alba started the move with a great long ball down the left flank, which Jeremy Mathieu got onto with an overlapping run. He played a cross into the center which was met by Jonas, who calmly slotted a finish into the back of the net.
Barcelona found their equalizer in slightly unlikely fashion, on a corner kick. Though Alves was great for most of the match, he made a mistake in the 35th minute when he came out for a corner and missed, giving Puyol an opportunity to finish with a brilliant header.
The Blaugranas had a chance to take the lead in the 54th minute when Miguel fouled Thiago Alcantara in the penalty area, but Lionel Messi took a poor spot kick and Alves saved, preserving the tie. Barcelona were the aggressors and had chances to score throughout the second half, but never capitalized.
For more on the Blaugranas, check out FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.