Lionel Messi missed a penalty as Barcelona was held to a 1-1 draw at Valencia in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals.
Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Alves dived to his left to stop Messis 56th-minute spot kick on Wednesday after Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara had been fouled inside the area.
Valencia made a better start at its Mestalla Stadium and scored first when Jeremy Mathieu sent a pass between Barcelona defenders for Jonas to rifle the ball into the top corner of goal in the 27th. The visitors equalised eight minutes later when Carles Puyol headed a corner past Diego Alves,who was caught out of position on Cesc Fabregas inswinging cross.
Barcelona was lucky not to be reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto raced to cut off Roberto Soldado and appeared to touch the ball outside of his area in the 18th minute.
The Spanish champions,who lost the domestic cup final to Real Madrid at the Mestalla in April,still hold the edge ahead of next Wednesdays return leg at the Camp Nou thanks to the away goal. Thats the best thing,that we get to play in front of our fans with everything depending on ourselves, Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano said.
Messi had some early chances but,led by Pablo Piatti,Valencia exerted better control before Soldado volleyed over the bar in the 21st. A minute later,Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez rushed a shot on his wrong foot after a breakaway.
Valencias best scoring opportunities originated from the left,with Jordi Alba sending Mathieu flying down the flank and the France winger passing perfectly between Puyol and Gerard Pique for Jonas to redirect the ball into the net.
Diego Alves did well to deny Sanchez after Isaac Cuencas impressive dribble had given the Chile international a great chance,and Barcelona capitalised on the ensuing corner as Puyol caught the goalkeeper wandering to score his third goal of the season.