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Coutinho savours ‘unforgettable’ Barca debut

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Barcelona’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho runs during the Spanish ‘Copa del Rey’ (King’s cup) quarter-final second leg football match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE

Philippe Coutinho described his Barcelona debut as unforgettable but admitted he had been nervous after coming on during the Copa del Rey semi-final at the Camp Nou.

Nearly three weeks after his 160-million-euro ($194 million) move from Liverpool, the Brazilian midfielder replaced Andres Iniesta with 22 minutes remaining in the second half on Thursday.

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored as Barcelona beat Espanyol 2-0 to reach the semi-finals as the holders overturned a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.

A thigh injury had delayed Coutinho’s Barcelona debut but he showed no signs of the problem on Thursday.

“It was a very special night for me and it’s one I’ll never forget,” he said.

“All the supporters and all the players gave me a good welcome and they helped me a lot. I was a bit nervous and anxious but they helped to calm me down and I was able to get into the game.

“I’m very happy to have had my first minutes of action for the club and I’m excited about the reception I received.”

Coutinho is expected to be involved when Barca host Alaves in La Liga on Sunday.


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