Valencia 2-3 Barcelona: 5 talking points as Lionel Messi guides his side back into the title race

Lionel Messi-Barcelona

Barcelona picked up a 3-2 win away from home against Valencia last night to keep their La Liga title hopes alive.

The Catalan giants were under pressure to pick up all three points after their poor performance against Granada last time out, and Ronald Koeman will be pleased with the response from his players.

Valencia have been a difficult side to beat in recent weeks, and they were unbeaten in three of their last four league games before Barcelona’s visit. 

Here at Anytime football, we look at the five major talking points from last night’s contest.

Game-changing error from Toni Lato

The home side were handed their lead through Gabriel Paulista on the 50th minute, and they seemed in control of the game.

However, defender Toni Lato came up with a ridiculous handball that allowed Barcelona a way back into the game, and the Spanish giants were unplayable after that. The goal gave them the morale boost they needed to fire away past Valencia’s resistance.

Barcelona scored three goals within six minutes to take the game away from the home side.

Controversial opening goal

Barcelona seemed unhappy with the opening goal of the game, where Gabriel Paulista headed in from a direct corner.

However, it appeared that the Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was obstructed when the corner was played in, and the German lost his balance and fell to the ground.

The incident was double-checked by VAR, but Valencia were awarded the goal eventually.

Barcelona’s game management

Having taken a 3-1 lead around the hour mark, the visitors were in cruise control of the game, but Valencia added a bit of late drama with a sensational strike from Carlos Soler.

The Spanish giants have often surrendered leads because of their defensive vulnerabilities in recent years, but Barcelona managed to keep their nerve last night and see out the game.

The visitors kept the ball and did not allow Valencia to create chances for a late onslaught.

Crunch clash against Atletico Madrid

Last night’s win has brought Barcelona right back into the title race, and they will be looking forward to the blockbuster clash against Atletico Madrid on Saturday now.

The two teams are separated by just two points, and a win next week could help Barcelona climb to the top of the Spanish League table, while a draw will provide Real Madrid the advantage in league race.

It will be a vital game in the context of the title race, and it remains to be seen whether Barcelona can grind out another big win.

Lionel Messi the star of the show once again

The Argentine superstar put on a splendid performance against Valencia, and Barcelona would have lost the game without him. Messi has been unplayable since the turn of the year, and he was the difference between the two sides once again.

Messi scored his 50th direct free-kick goal in all competitions for Barcelona last night. The Argentine also managed to score a penalty from a rebound, having missed the initial effort.

His overall play was quite impressive as well, and he helped create quite a few chances for his teammates.

Messi has scored 29 goals in 35 games against Valencia in all competitions. Only against Sevilla (38 in 43) and Atlético (32 in 42) has he achieved more goals in his career as a Barça player [eurosport]