- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

MADRID (AP) - Luis Suarez scored four goals and Lionel Messi a hat trick as Barcelona defeated 10-man Valencia 7-0 on Wednesday to move into position to reach the Copa del Rey final for the third straight season.

Suarez scored in the seventh and 12th minutes, and Messi got on the board in the 29th, 58th and 74th before Suarez closed the scoring in the 83rd and 88th minutes.

Messi also hit the post once, and Neymar missed a penalty kick just before halftime of the semifinal at the Camp Nou. The second leg is next week at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia.

“It was one of the more complete games we’ve played,” said Suarez, who has 35 goals in 33 games this season. “We know we have a good advantage now, but in football you never know.”

Valencia, struggling since coach Gary Neville took over less than two months ago, played the entire second half a man down after defender Shkodran Mustafi was sent off for fouling Messi in the play that prompted the penalty wasted by Neymar with a shot into the post.

“Valencia fans didn’t deserve a result like this one,” Neville said. “This is one of the worst experiences I’ve been through in football. We made bad mistakes during the entire match.”

Barcelona’s ninth win in a row kept alive the team’s 27-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, one shy of its all-time record. It hasn’t lost a game since a 2-1 result at Sevilla in October in the Spanish league. The Catalan club went 28 games without a loss in the 2010-11 season.

Barcelona has outscored opponents 30-3 in its last seven games at the Camp Nou.

The hosts opened the scoring after Neymar helped steal a ball near midfield and set up Suarez’s low cross shot from inside the area. Suarez added his second from near the penalty spot after assists by Sergio Busquets and Aleix Vidal.

Neymar’s superb back-flick pass left Messi in great position to score the third from close range.

It was Suarez who set up Messi with a back-flick pass for the fourth goal, and Messi cleared two defenders inside the area before finding the net. He got his hat trick with a left-footed shot after Valencia defenders failed to clear a ball in front of the goal.

Suarez capped his spectacular night with a right-footed shot from inside the box, and a late header.

Suarez and Messi spent the final part of the match trying to set up Neymar, but he wasn’t able to find the target.

“We kept looking for him after he missed the penalty,” Suarez said. “We know that in the end he is happy for the team.”

Valencia complained about the penalty kick call, claiming Mustafi caught the ball before touching Messi’s leg inside the area.

Newly signed Valencia striker Denis Cheryshev had a goal disallowed for offside after coming off the bench in the second half. Cheryshev was ineligible when he played for Real Madrid earlier in the competition, leading to the team’s disqualification.

Valencia players said before the match that their main goal coming into the Camp Nou was to avoid a rout and stay alive for the second leg at Mestalla. The Copa del Rey is the only competition Valencia has a chance of winning in what has been a dismal season. The team hasn’t won in 11 league games, eight of them under the command of former England player Neville.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni

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