Barcelona overwhelmed at Valencia fortress

Estadi de Mestalla, Valencia – 02/05/2000 – Semi-finals
Angulo 10, 43 Mendieta 45+2 (P) Claudio López 90
4 - 1
  • Pellegrino 27 (o.g.)
Touch of genius

"We built up great expectations. The people, the entire city were waiting." Héctor Cúper


• Spain had three representatives in the semi-finals – Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Valencia CF – and for the first time two sides from the same nation contested the UEFA Champions League showpiece.

• Barcelona scored in each of their 16 UEFA Champions League games and racked up a record 45 goals for the campaign, Rivaldo hitting ten as he, Mário Jardel and Raúl González shared the top scorer honour.

• Simone Inzaghi became only the second player to score four goals in a game as S.S. Lazio beat Olympique de Marseille 5-1 in the second group stage. AC Milan's Marco van Basten achieved the feat in 1992.

History gave Valencia CF little hope when the draw paired them with domestic rivals FC Barcelona in the last four. This first leg was about whether Héctor Cúper's men could build up a big enough cushion at their home fortress ahead of a perilous trip to Camp Nou – they did not disappoint.

Valencia's debut UEFA Champions League season had been mixed. At Mestalla they were irresistible, unbeaten and at times unplayable; S.S. Lazio had been passed into submission in the last eight. Away they were inconsistent and occasionally lacklustre, mustering just two wins in seven games. Crucially, however, Jekyll had always got the better of Hyde.

Spurred on by frenetic home support, Valencia took an early lead through Miguel Ángel Angulo but had the wind taken out of their sails when, within seconds of Claudio López having an effort chalked off, Mauricio Pellegrino put through his own net. The equaliser had been coming yet Valencia regained the initiative and, two minutes before half-time, the lead.

Kily González was in the thick of it, delivering a perfectly-weighted cross for Angulo to divert home at the near post. Then, in the next attack, came the hammer blow as Angulo was upended by Carles Puyol and Gaizka Mendieta slotted the resulting penalty low to Ruud Hesp's right.

With Dani struggling to fill the suspended Luís Figo's shoes and Javier Farinós shadowing Rivaldo's every move, Barcelona never looked like getting back into it. Indeed, damage limitation was the order of the day as Hesp twice kept out Mendieta while a Farinos back-heel went millimetres wide.

Then, with the visitors chasing the away goal that could have made all the difference, Valencia broke through Amedeo Carboni. The midfielder made light work of Simão as he cut inside and offloaded for López to send a fizzing low shot into the far corner. Cúper's men were within touching distance of the final.

Star players

  • F. De Boer

    De Boer rose to prominence as a left-back at AFC Ajax before switching to the central role he made his own for 14 years with the Dutch national team. He won five titles, the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League before moving, alongside twin brother Ronald, to FC Barcelona. He won the 1998/99 Liga title but failed to reach the heights he had in Amsterdam.

  • Rivaldo

    A supremely talented playmaker, no other footballer can boast titles in Brazil, Spain, Greece and Uzbekistan. Yet what set Rivaldo apart was the way he performed, his flicks and feints always bruising; his dead-ball delivery deadly. He won the Ballon d'Or in 1999, the 2002 FIFA World Cup with Brazil and then, having swapped FC Barcelona for AC Milan, the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League.

  • Mendieta

    The driving force behind Valencia CF's return to prominence, Spain international Mendieta was an all-rounder as adept protecting his defence as he was punching holes in oppositions'. Twice named best midfielder in the UEFA Champions League as Valencia finished runners-up in 2000 and 2001, he had moved to Middlesbrough FC, winning the 2004 English League Cup, by the time they won two titles in three seasons.

What happened next?

• FC Barcelona came from behind to win the second leg 2-1 eight days later but it was Valencia CF who advanced to their maiden final where, with Amedeo Carboni banned, they lost 3-0 to Real Madrid CF.

• This was the start of five memorable seasons for Valencia as they ended a 31-year wait with two Liga titles and won the 2004 UEFA Cup, all under Rafael Benítez who replaced Héctor Cúper in summer 2001.

• Barcelona picked up just two points from their final three Liga matches as they were pipped to the title by RC Deportivo La Coruña, with Valencia coming third, level on points with the Catalan giants.

• Valencia took the final all the way to penalties against FC Bayern München 12 months later at San Siro but again they came off second best, Mauricio Pellegrino missing his spot kick as Bayern won 5-4.

• It proved the end of an era for Barcelona as coach Louis van Gaal and, after 22 years at the helm, president Josep Lluís Núñez both stepped down, while Luís Figo departed to rivals Real Madrid CF.

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