Coutinho thanks Messi for letting him take penalty, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Coutinho thanks Messi for letting him take penalty

Philippe Coutinho expressed gratitude to Lionel Messi for allowing him to take a penalty as Barcelona thrashed Sevilla 6-1 to sweep into the Copa del Rey semi-finals with a 6-3 aggregate victory yesterday morning (Singapore time).

After a 2-0 defeat in Seville last week in which they rested key players, the Catalan side broke the deadlock in the 13th minute when Coutinho slotted home from the spot following Quincy Promes' foul on Messi.

Messi handed Coutinho the ball and the Brazilian playmaker converted the spot-kick, ending a run of poor form.

"Leo encouraged me to take the penalty and that helped me gain confidence," said Coutinho. "The gesture shows what a great person he is."

Sevilla nearly equalised but Jasper Cillessen produced a brilliant save from Andre Silva's backheel, before the Dutch goalkeeper palmed away Ever Banega's penalty.

Gerard Pique fouled Roque Mesa and, after a long delay while the incident was checked by the video assistant referee (VAR), Banega fired to the goalkeeper's left, but Cillessen flew across to keep the ball out.

Barcelona pulled level on aggregate in the 32nd minute when Ivan Rakitic nudged the ball past Juan Soriano with the faintest of touches after a sensational pass from Arthur.

Two goals in a two-minute spell after the break helped Barcelona race ahead, with Coutinho heading in from Luis Suarez's cross and Sergi Roberto tucking home a ball from Messi.

Guilherme Arana pulled a goal back for Sevilla with a powerful drive, but Suarez struck on the break and Messi added a late goal for a 6-1 win.

"Coutinho spoke with Messi and took the penalty, I'm happy for his goals," said Sergi Roberto. "We want him to be happy... He's a very important player for us." - REUTERS