PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

FC Barcelona have come out tops in a tricky encounter with Valencia, with the only goal coming from the most unexpected of sources: Adriano Correia. The Brazilian sent an absolute thunderbolt of a shot past Diego Alves in the 23rd minute, which was enough to decide a game in which chances were scarce at both ends. The 1-0 win makes it three out of three in La Liga for FC Barcelona. With the competition about to a break for internationals, Barça are now two points clear at the top of the table

Work of art from Adriano

After a cold start to the match, Soldado was the first to come close to scoring with a long range effort. But Barça soon responded, with Messi almost heading home an Alves cross. That spurred a period of brilliance from FC Barcelona, managed today by Jordi Roura as Tito Vilanova served the first game of his two-match suspension. And the pressure finally paid off when Adriano received the ball from a corner, and drove it home with a spectacular strike

Alves substituted

Shortly after the goal, Pedro broke free from his marker and very nearly made it two, and moments later Cesc squandered a fantastic opportunity by sending the ball onto the post. Although Barça were ahead as the teams went in for their half time break, they must have felt that they deserved a lot more than the solitary goal in their account. Alves, feeling trouble with his left femoral biceps, was replaced by Alba for the second half, the Catalan slotting in at left back and Adriano switching to the right.

Valencia goal disallowed

In the second 45 minutes, there was even less goalmouth action than in the first. Alves was only truly troubled by a Cesc effort that was sent way over the bar, while Valencia only really looked dangerous from set pieces. And that was precisely how Víctor Ruiz found the net, but his goal was correctly disallowed for offside.

Nervous finale

But although the chances in the second half could be counted on just one hand, the tightness of the scoreline meant the last few minutes were always going to be a gripping affair. Barça may have had almost all the possession and were dictating the pace of the game, but one Valencia goal could still change everything, and the visitors threw caution to the wind and went out in search of an equaliser. And they very nearly got it when Víctor Ruiz rose to meet a corner, but his header missed the target by inches and Barça could breathe a very heavy sigh of relief when the final whistle blew to confirm their perfect start to the league campaign continues. Nine points out of nine, and top of the table for at least another fortnight.