Lionel Messi double leads Barcelona to a nail-biting win over Valencia on Sunday pushing the club close to the La Liga title. After a frantic week in which Real Madrid drew with Real Betis, Atletico lost to Athletic Bilbao, and Barca were defeated by Granada on Thursday, with some order restored this weekend, earning the top three.
“I knew we wouldn’t have quiet games, we are still fighting. A quiet game means that you are not competing for anything,” said Gerard Pique. “The only idea against Atletico is to win. “I expect we’ll be at the top by the end of the weekend, but even if someone else was there, I wouldn’t be home to be the champion,” he added.
If the club has only one advantage during the run-way, it is Messi, who has 28 goals in the league this season, seven ahead of Karim Benzema and, even more notable, his relatively slow start. Argentina now has seven from their last five matches.
Ronald Koeman was forced off the bench after being sent off against Granada, with assistant coach Alfred Schruder in his place in the line.
They should have capitalized at the start of the second half, while Goncalo Guedes went to Soler, but failed to defeat Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the final. But Valencia scored from the resulting corner, with Gabriel going into an empty net at the back post, and Barca claiming a foul on Ter Stegen.
Thierry Correia was the first to reach a corner kick, but his header was blocked by the keeper. Correia could have made two in a short period of time but missed the target and instead, Barcelona scored three times in 12 minutes.
Gabriel intercepts Perry’s volley on the line and in chaos, Messi reacts fastest to speed up recovery. Six minutes later, Barca were ahead, after De Jong ended Griezmann to complete his race to complete Alba’s floating cross, only to be blocked by Silsane en route to Griezmann for his header.
And then Lionel Messi made the best batch, winning a free kick on the edge of the box with an excellent touch away from his center marker, wrapping a beautiful shot from Sillison’s left hand and past the bar.
Barcelona looked confident, until Soler made a dramatic end, throwing a shot from 30 meters, with seven minutes left to play. Valencia pushed, filled the box and threw the balls forward, but eventually lacked the last chance they wanted.