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FC Barcelona remain top of the table with a four-point gap as they drew 1-1 with second-placed Valencia in a top of the table clash at Mestalla on Sunday. Both teams came into the game unbeaten and remained so after an intense game. Barça remain unbeaten in La Liga with a record of thirteen played, eleven won, and two drawn.
Valverde’s men equalised through an excellent Jordi Alba volley from a sumptuous Messi assist in the 83rd minute. The goal means Barça maintain their undefeated record at Mestalla stretching back to 2007.
FC Barcelona kicked off with a spell of possession ending in a well-struck Paulinho effort which Valencia keeper Neto tipped over the bar. Both sides were snapping into tackles and looking to make sure the opposing team didn’t settle into the game. The second shot on goal came from Rakitic, which was gathered well, following some confident passing in midfield.
The tight start continued as Valencia set up with two solid banks of four in defence. In the 21st minute, Messi dropped deep to pick the ball up from Vermaelen and floated a brilliant ball over the Valencia defence which Jordi Alba almost got on the end of.
Messi ghost goal
The Argentinian star burst into life in the 30th minute and his first-time shot was spilled by Neto, with replays showing the ball crossed the line and was then palmed out by the opposition keeper. Barça thought they had scored and were celebrating when Zaza counter-attacked and shot just wide.
Soon after, Messi dribbled past Kondogbia, who brought him down and was shown a yellow card for his illegal challenge. Barça’s number ‘10’ lined up the free kick and his curling effort from 30-yards was comfortably saved.
The blaugranas cranked up their efforts, with Semedo probing down the right, Iniesta playing a smart one-two on the edge of the box, and Suárez almost scoring but he was pushed wide by Gayá and saw his shot from an acute angle saved.
By the end of the first half, Barça had had 71% possession but it was still goalless at the Mestalla. The blaugranas had come up against a tough, well-drilled side who were out to defend well and keep the visitors at bay.
Open start to second half
Valencia kicked off the second half by showing a little more attacking intent. A foray down the right by Gaya ended with a Zaza effort which he dragged wide of the post. Barça responded with a Vermaelen header from a corner which went over the bar. Both sides were finding a little more space in the attacking third as the game opened up.
The home side attacked down the right again through Guedes. The Valencia player darted past Umtiti but his shot was blocked by Ter Stegen and then Barça’s keeper smothered at Rodrigo’s feet. That was the goalkeeper’s 35th save from the 40 shots he has faced in La Liga this season.
Rodrigo scores opener
The Valencia striker scored the opening goal of the game in the 60th minute. Guedes had the ball on the right, he fed Gaya on the overlap and Rodrigo turned in the cross from close range.
Valverde saw the need to try and change things up a bit and he brought on Deulofeu for Rakitic to add a little more pace to Barça’s attack as they tried to find an equaliser. Soon after, Denis Suárez was introduced for Andrés Iniesta. Luis Suárez had a go as he rolled his defender and shot from the edge of the box but his effort was palmed away by Neto.
Fabulous late equaliser
It looked like Barça were going to suffer their first defeat of the season before Jordi Alba got his team back on level terms with a brilliant goal late on in the match. Messi saw his run, played an incredible ball over the defence, and Alba smashed home a brilliant left-footed volley that gave Neto no chance. What a time to score your first of the season!
Barça looked for the winner but were unable to fasion any clear-cut chances and Valencia had some dangerous openings themselves through Pereira and Zaza. In the end, the blaugranas secured a deserved point in a tough away match against a high-flying Valencia team (1-1).
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