Barcelona 4-2 Valencia: Messi Double Helps Reduce the Gap on La Liga Leaders Real Madrid

Michael Plant

Barcelona's famous trio once again helped Luis Enrique's men, as they cut the gap to Real Madrid to just two points. Yet it wasn't plain sailing for Barca as they emerged victorious in their La Liga fixture against Valencia on Sunday night.


It took just two minutes for Barcelona to initially get in behind the Valencia back line. Iniesta's through ball found Luis Suarez, but his cross was cleared comfortably by Jose Gaya.


Suarez was involved in the game's first shot on target, just minutes later. A ball over the top found the former Liverpool man, whose touch took him away from goal. His turn back narrowed the angle and the following shot was easily palmed away by Diego Alves.


It took until the 15th minute for Barca to create another chance. Suarez was at the centre of things again. His pass found Lionel Messi in the six yard box, but the Argentine's shot was cleared off the line by a mixture of Jose Gaya and Fabian Orellana.


The Catalans were on top now and a jinxing Messi run and shot sailed just over the bar a few moments later.


Valencia had their first shot of real significance in the 18th minute when Carlos Soler's volley was smartly saved by Andre ter Stegen.


The match's first penalty claim saw Neymar go down in the box half way through the first period. Replays seemed to show the Barcelona number 11 fell without any contact, and luckily for Valencia the referee did not point to the spot.


Valencia were growing more into the game and a kick from the hands of Diego Alves, released El Haddadi Munir. The man on-loan from Barcelona was one-on-one with ter Stegen, yet overran the ball, earning his team a corner.


The subsequent set piece saw Eliaquim Mangala out jump Ivan Rakatic and head the ball into the Barcelona net.


Yet it was not long until Barcelona levelled the game. A long throw from Neymar caught the Valencia defence out and put his teammate Luis Suarez in for a shooting opportunity. Unsurprisingly the Uruguayan bent the ball past Alves to the delight of most of the Nou Camp.

FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - La Liga
FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - La Liga

Suarez was running Valencia ragged and his dribble in the 41st minute allowed him to poke the ball past Alves, which trickled agonisingly along the goal-line, with no Barca player able to keep up.


Suarez was involved again just two minutes later when he found himself one-on-one with the Valencia keeper. On loan Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala pulled on the 30-year-old's shirt, which saw the referee award a penalty and give Mangala his marching orders.


Messi coolly dispatched the spot kick, with Luis Enrique's men looking set to go in at half time in front.


Yet Valencia were to finish a barnstorming first half, with a late equaliser.

Almost straight from the kick-off Gaya burst down the left flank and delivered an inch perfect pass into Munir. The 21-year-old slid the ball past ter Stegen's far post and despite the significance of the goal, he refused to celebrate against his parent club.


Messi was the architect of the second half's first chance. A defence splitting pass allowed Neymar to have a shot against Alves which was smartly saved.


Yet, the goalkeeper couldn't stop a Messi pile driver just a minute later. The forward received the ball on the right-hand side of the box, and after faking on his left foot pulled the ball back on to his weaker side. Luckily for the Catalans Messi's shot nestled in the bottom corner of the net. 

Barcelona were still allowing Valencia chances at goal however. Soon after, Gerard Pique was forced to make a last ditch sprint and tackle to prevent Munir adding to his tally for the night.


It took MSN until the 72nd minute to create another real opportunity. Messi's swivelling shot was pushed into the path of Suarez. Yet the number nine couldn't sort his feet out in time, and his shot went wide of the Valencia goal.


Soon after, Neymar rattled the Valencia post with his free-kick as Barcelona tried to finish the game off.


Barca were still looking to add to their goal haul, and without creating clear cut chances, were still giving the Valencia defence plenty to worry about.

FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - La Liga
FC Barcelona v Valencia CF - La Liga

Neymar tried again in vain, to add his name to the goal sheet. However the Brazilian's shot sailed over the crossbar.


The extra man showed for the La Liga champions, as Valencia struggled to test ter Stegen, and late on, Andre Gomes finished the game off.


Neymar's superb second half showing saw him pick out the former Valencia man in the box, and he casually tapped the ball into the away goal, securing all three points.


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