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FC Barcelona got back to winning ways in the league with a 4-2 win over Valencia at the Camp Nou on Sunday night.
In an action-packed affair, Barça’s attacking ingenuity proved too much for a stubborn Valencia side who, as ever, proved a tough opponent.
Barça started on the front foot, looking to quickly get back on track after last week’s defeat at Deportivo and almost had an early lead but for some goal-line heroics from Valencia.
Samuel Umtiti’s through ball in behind the defence found Luis Suárez, who cut inside his man and then unselfishly played it across for Leo Messi. The Argentine’s effort was stopped on the line by Orellana and Rafinha could not rearrange his feet in time to prod home.
Looking to put things right a moment later, Messi embarked on a mazy run reminiscent of a wonder goal he scored in the same fixture seven years ago but his curling effort went just over the bar
It was then Valencia’s turn to threaten, and were it not for a fantastic save from Marc-André ter Stegen, they would have been ahead. Gerard Piqué’s clearance bounced up for Soler who powered in a volley towards goal, only for the German to deny.
Eventful end to the half
Nevertheless, it was Los Che who took the lead. An outswinging corner was met by the rising Mangala and, this time, Ter Stegen could do nothing to prevent it the visitors going ahead.
But it did not last long. Just six minutes later, a quick throw-in from Neymar played Suárez in on goal and the Uruguayan masterfully curled the ball around the outstretched arm of Diego Alves to level things up. It was the lethal striker’s eighth goal in seven appearances against Valencia in all competitions.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Messi’s pass around the corner found Suárez who turned inside Mangala. The Frenchman desperately pulled Suárez’s shirt, leading to a penalty and a straight red card for the defender.
Messi and Diego Alves have had some memorable duels in the past but this time the Argentine would come out on top as he slotted the ball straight down the middle for 2-1.
Luis Enrique’s men looked to be heading into the break with the lead in hand but a rapid break up the other ended in Gaya squaring the ball to none other than Barça loanee Munir who finished neatly for 2-2
Barça started the second half purposefully, and almost had their lead back when a delightful through ball from Messi played Neymar in on goal – the winger shaped up to strike at the far post but his international teammate Alves made an excellent stop with his legs at the near stick.
But Barça had the lead once again just moments later. A cleared corner fell to Javier Mascherano, who found his fellow countryman Messi and the rest was inevitable. Shifting the ball onto his right-foot, Messi lashed the ball past Alves at the near post for 3-2.
The last half-hour resembled a training session, as Barça mounted attack after attack on the Valencia goal, and had it been for some more clinical finishing could have ended in a rout.
On 72 minutes, Messi fired across goal, and the rebound from Alves’ stop fell to Suárez with the goal gaping but uncharacteristically failed to find the target.
Moments later, from a similar position to the one where he whipped in a dead ball in the famous comeback against PSG, Neymar beat the wall and the keeper but not the post as his search of his 100th Barça goal had to be put on hold.
Gomes seals the win
The killer goal eventually game on 89 minutes when Neymar, who had terrorized the opposition defence all evening, sprinted down the left flank before laying the ball on a plate for former Valencia man André Gomes for his first ever Barça goal (4-2).
The win puts Barça back within two points of league leaders Real Madrid, though the side from the capital have played one game less.
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