Football: Coutinho savours 'unforgettable' Barca debut

Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho runs during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg football match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Jan 25, 2018.
Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho runs during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg football match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Jan 25, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA (AFP) - 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 (S$260.3 million) move to the Spanish La Liga giants from English Premier League side Liverpool, the Brazil midfielder replaced Andres Iniesta with 22 minutes remaining in the second half on Thursday night.

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 leaders Barca host Alaves in La Liga on Sunday.