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La Liga

Messi 8/10, De Jong 7/10 as Barcelona maintain La Liga title hopes alive at Valencia

Lionel Messi struck twice as Barcelona got here from behind to beat Valencia 3-2 at Mestalla on Sunday and maintain their title hopes alive with 4 video games to go in La Liga.

Gabriel Paulista headed Valencia right into a Fiftieth-minute lead however Barca replied with three targets in 12 minutes to stay inside two factors of leaders Atletico Madrid, who they host at Camp Nou on Saturday.

Paulista’s aim set the tone for an exciting second half, with Messi equalising from shut vary after seeing his penalty saved by former teammate Jasper Cillessen.

Antoine Griezmann then gave Barca the lead and a Messi free kick appeared to wrap issues up with 20 minutes to play. Nonetheless, a shocking strike from Carlos Soler arrange a nervy last seven minutes for Ronald Koeman’s aspect.

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Positives

Koeman stated earlier than Sunday’s recreation that if his aspect win their last 5 video games, they may win the league. That is now 4. In the event that they do win these 4, they’re assured to complete above Atletico, though they may nonetheless want Actual Madrid to drop factors. If each Barca and Madrid win all their remaining video games, Madrid will win the league courtesy of getting the higher head-to-head document between the 2 sides.

This was a gutsy efficiency from Barca, although, which welcomes encouragement for the Atletico recreation. They fought again from a aim all the way down to win within the league at Mestalla for the primary time because the 2016-17 season and confirmed battle to shut the sport out. The comeback was led by Messi, who seems decided to pull Barca to the title.

There was additionally excellent news on the reserving entrance. Messi, Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong have been among the many gamers who would have missed the Atletico recreation in the event that they have been cautioned. They weren’t.

Negatives

Barca confirmed frailties in defence once more, conceding a tender aim from a nook and being opened up too simply on the counter-attack at occasions. They have been additionally wasteful within the last third, which meant they have been as soon as once more unable to kill the sport off.

Supervisor ranking out of 10

5 — Koeman was serving the primary of a two-game touchline ban after being despatched off throughout the midweek defeat to Granada. As soon as the sport began, he may have little affect on it, together with his No.2 Alfred Schreuder prowling the technical space in his place.

Participant rankings (1-10; 10 = greatest. Gamers launched after 70 minutes get no ranking)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 — Made good saves from Uros Racic and Goncalo Guedes whereas the sport was goalless. Left the aim gaping for Valencia’s first aim, though felt he’d been obstructed by Thierry Correia.

DF Ronald Araujo, 6 — Changed Oscar Mingueza because the right-sided defender. Is healthier on the again however not as comfy on the ball.

DF Gerard Pique, 6 — Battled via a knee harm to win a number of key headers late on as Valencia sought an equaliser.

DF Clement Lenglet, 5 — Has improved in latest weeks however switched off to depart Paulista free for the Valencia aim.

MF Sergino Dest, 6 — Returned to the aspect after resting in midweek however was unable to supply a risk on the suitable.

MF Frenkie de Jong, 7 — Coated each blade of grass in one other continuous efficiency. Helped in defence and received into the field when he may, together with his header, saved by Cillessen, organising Griezmann’s aim.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 — Continued his good type from latest weeks and was quickest to react to Messi’s penalty miss to maintain the ball alive.

MF Pedri, 7 — Was closely concerned within the recreation in a optimistic method from the beginning however missed a golden likelihood to open the scoring inside 10 minutes. His blocked shot led to Messi’s first aim.

MF Jordi Alba, 6 — Higher in assault than defence and delivered loads of harmful crosses into the field, together with the one which led to Griezmann’s aim.

FW Lionel Messi, 8 — Concerned in most of Barca’s greatest moments. His nice move for De Jong was dealt with by Toni Lato to win the penalty, which finally led to his first aim. Added his second, his twenty eighth within the league this season, by way of an excellent free kick.

FW Antoine Griezmann, 7 — Did not get within the field sufficient within the first half however was properly positioned to attain the very important second aim from six yards out to increase his scoring streak to 5 in his final 5 video games.

Substitutes

MF Sergi Roberto, N/R — Changed Dest for the ultimate quarter-hour to assist Barca maintain the ball.

MF Ilaix Moriba, N/R — One other signal of the boldness Barca have in him to throw him on in such a giant recreation.

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