Barcelona’s newest member Philippe Coutinho has expressed his delight in finally making his long-awaited debut, saying that the warm atmosphere in the stadium helped him ease his nerves.
Coutinho replaced Andres Iniesta in the 69th minute of Barca’s Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg against Espanyol and helped his new employers progress with a 2-1 aggregate victory.
The Brazil international joined Barca earlier this month from Liverpool in a deal that could reach £142million but a thigh injury prevented him from making his debut until Thursday evening.
Coutinho admitted he had been hit by a bout of nerves prior to coming on against Espanyol – the club he had a loan stint with in 2012 – but said the reaction of his colleagues and fans helped calm him.
He said on Barcelona’s official website: “For me it’s a great night, a very special night.
“They are my first minutes with this club and I’m very happy, thrilled.
“The reception I got from the fans and the players left me happy. I was a little anxious, nervous, but the way they all received me left me very calm.”
First-half goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp helped holders Barca overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg and join Valencia, Sevilla and Leganes in the last four.
Coutinho added: “It’s a special night and we’ve managed to win the game, which is the most important thing.
“It was a difficult game, as you’d expect, against a team who played well. I think from the first half we controlled the game well and we’ve deserved to win.”