Barcelona 'played with anxiety' before late Lewandowski winner at Valencia, says Xavi

Xavi believes Barcelona "played with anxiety" at Valencia but "never stopped believing" as Robert Lewandowski struck an injury-time winner at Mestalla.

A tight contest looked to be petering out to a goalless draw when Lewandowski got on the end of a Raphinha cross into the box to divert in a vital goal to bring a smile to Barca after an unhappy few days.

After being eliminated from the Champions League group stage for the second season running prior to losing 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, the Blaugrana were searching for a morale-boosting win in Valencia.

Speaking after the game, head coach Xavi outlined how much the last week impacted his side's performance, saying: "It was a very important victory. Almost in the last second. We never stopped believing.

"We played with anxiety, the Champions League affected us. Wednesday weighed on us. We suffered. After three quarters [of the game] it became difficult. The decision-making was bad, the result of anxiety.

"We were better than Valencia and we deserved the victory. It wasn't an excellent game, we weren't inspired, but it's vital [the win]."

Valencia 0-1 Barcelona xG race
Valencia 0-1 Barcelona xG race

The 93rd-minute goal from Lewandowski was his 13th of the season, putting him six ahead of his nearest challengers – Real Betis' Borja Iglesias and Espanyol's Joselu (both on seven goals) – in the race for the Pichichi.

"The goal is of quality," Xavi said. "Robert is here to make a difference. I thought it might have been offside, because of the dynamics we had.

"But we have to improve. We have to make better decisions. It could have been a tie and it would be a drama, and it shouldn't be like that. We've improved a lot, we're on the way."

The win puts Barca top of LaLiga ahead of Real Madrid's game at home to Girona on Sunday, but Xavi still believes it is important to put pressure on their great rivals in the race for the title.

"It's very important for the team, we deserved it," he added. "We made an effort, we worked hard and the reward is important. We sleep as leaders, and we want to put pressure on Real Madrid."