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Valverde surprised by reaction to Coutinho’s goal celebration

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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde can’t understand why people are more interested in slamming Philippe Coutinho’s celebration after the stunner he hit against Manchester United.

The Brazilian playmaker brushed aside his struggles this season to score Barcelona’s third goal in their 3-0 second leg win over United in their Champions League quarter-final tie.

Coutinho found the back of the net through a 25-yard strike, but left Barcelona fans upset by shutting his eyes and placing his fingers in his ears in front of them.

Blaugrana legend Rivaldo has since slammed his compatriot’s actions on Wednesday along with many others.

But, for Valverde, it Coutinho’s goal instead of his celebration that should have been the talking point.

“The players feed on sensations just like everyone else,” said Valverde, according to Goal.

“In regard to criticism, we are in the world of football and subject to continuous criticism. And you always have to face [the critics]. Coutinho is the same as everyone.

“I have not talked with him. He made a gesture. What surprises me is that they talk more about the gesture than the goal.

“I did not find anything special and I did not think it was disrespectful to anyone. We give a lot of hype to anecdotal things.

“Coutinho has had a year in which he has suffered criticism, but the important thing is that he played a match that I am happy with.”

Barcelona will host Real Sociedad on Saturday at Camp Nou hoping to go a step closer to retaining their La Liga crown.

With just six matches left, Valverde’s side enjoy a comfortable nine-point lead at the top of the standings and remain in the hunt for a treble.

A Copa del Rey final against Valencia awaits next month, while Liverpool will be Barcelona semi-final opponents in the Champions League.

“It’s been a good season but we want it to be better,” Valverde said.

“We are first in the league. We are going to play a final against Valencia and then we will see if we are in the Champions League final.

“We are where we want to be. There have been two times in our history that Barca have won the treble.

“Right now, what drives us is our need to win. There are nine points on the table this week, which is just what we need to clinch the championship.”