Lionel Messi missed a penalty however nonetheless scored twice, together with an beautiful free-kick, as Barcelona edged a five-goal thriller with Valencia on Monday to remain inside touching distance of the highest of La Liga. After Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both won on Sunday, there was no margin for error at Mestalla, the place Barca’s 3-2 win decreased the hole behind Atletico again to 2 factors, now with 4 video games left to play. Gabriel Paulista headed Valencia in entrance early within the second half earlier than Messi missed a penalty, solely to smash in from the ensuing scramble.
Griezmann and an excellent Messi free-kick regarded to have then made the victory safe however Carlos Soler’s gorgeous strike from distance left Barcelona holding on on the finish, a nerve-wracking win which means they might overtake Atletico Madrid subsequent weekend in the event that they beat Diego Simeone’s facet at Camp Nou.
“We knew we would not have any calm games,” stated Gerard Pique. “We are still in the fight. Calm games mean you’re not competing for anything.”
After a frantic week during which Real Madrid drew towards Real Betis, Atletico misplaced to Athletic Bilbao and Barca have been crushed on Thursday by Granada, order has been restored to some extent this weekend, with all the highest three again to successful methods.
Sevilla are actually six factors behind Atletico and might want to beat Athletic Bilbao on Monday to remain within the combine forward of their very own crunch recreation subsequent weekend away at Real Madrid.
“The only idea against Atletico is to win,” stated Pique. “I hope we will be top by the end of the weekend but even if someone else is there, I wouldn’t put my house on them being champions.”
Messi the trump card
Barcelona’s key strengths and weaknesses have been clearly demonstrated towards Valencia the place once more they proved themselves to be essentially the most artistic staff within the division whereas additionally displaying their vulnerabilities on the again.
And if they’ve one trump card in the course of the run-in, it’s Messi, whose double takes his La Liga tally to twenty-eight targets for the season, seven forward of Karim Benzema and much more exceptional given his comparatively sluggish begin. The Argentinian now has seven in his final 5 video games.
Ronald Koeman was banned from the bench after being despatched off towards Granada, with assistant coach Alfred Schreuder in his place on the road.
Barcelona had the higher of the probabilities within the first half however Valencia might take encouragement from some clear openings on the break.
They ought to have capitalised early within the second half as Goncalo Guedes ran onto Soler’s go however didn’t beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a poked end.
But Valencia scored from the ensuing nook, Gabriel heading into an empty internet on the again submit, with Barca claiming a foul on Ter Stegen.
Thierry Correia had stepped throughout the goalkeeper nevertheless it was not sufficient for a free-kick.
Correia might have made it two shortly after however missed the goal and as a substitute, Barcelona scored thrice in 12 minutes.
First, Valencia’s Toni Lato was responsible of a transparent handball to stop Frenkie de Jong tapping in and whereas Messi missed the penalty, a tame try pushed away by Jasper Cillessen, Sergio Busquets did brilliantly to maintain the ball alive.
Gabriel blocked Pedri’s volley on the road and within the mayhem, Messi reacted quickest to smash within the rebound.
Six minutes later, Barca have been in entrance, Griezmann ending after De Jong timed his run completely to satisfy Alba’s floated cross, just for his header to be palmed by Cillessen into Griezmann’s path.
And then Messi scored the very best of the lot, successful a free-kick with a superb contact away from his marker centrally, on the sting of the field, earlier than curling a pleasant shot away from Cillessen’s left hand and in off the submit.
Barcelona regarded safe till Soler arrange a dramatic end by thundering in a shot from 30 yards with seven minutes left to play. Valencia pushed, flooding the field and chipping balls ahead however in the end missing the ultimate probability they craved.
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