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Primera División

  • 2 March 2011
  • • 21:00
  • • Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia
  • Referee: Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez
  • • Attendance: 38000

Valencia 0-1 Barcelona: Messi gives Guardiola's side ten-point advantage in La Liga

Valencia 0-1 Barcelona: Messi gives Guardiola's side ten-point advantage in La Liga

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The champions close in on a third title after a well-earned win over Los Che...

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A Lionel Messi goal fifteen minutes from time handed Barcelona yet another three points against Valencia at the Mestalla this evening, and opened up a ten-point gap at the top of the Primera Division table.

The Argentine pounced on an Adriano pass to slot home and widen the gap over rivals Real Madrid, who face Malaga on Thursday, while Valencia's eleven game unbeaten run in the league was brought to an end.

Pep Guardiola had never triumphed at the Mestalla as a manager in the Primera Division, and the game appeared destined to be heading for a stalemate as both sides created but defended resolutely.

After enduring the ascendancy of the hosts during a vibrant early spell, he watched as his side squandered opportunities to earn a deserved lead, and uncharacteristically, it was Europe’s top scorer, Messi, who was guilty of being wasteful in front of goal.

Early on, the Argentine ran clear only to be faced by a combination of Ricard Costa and keeper Vicente Guaita, and was denied by the duo on three separate efforts, all from within eight yards of the goal.

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Then, after pouncing on a defensive error from Dealbert, Messi sprinted through on goal but despite having the goal at his mercy, lobbed his shot over Guaita, but also over the crossbar.

The match was tight and tactical, and home boss Unai Emery attempted to inject some attacking verve, introducing Roberto Soldado, and the former Real Madrid charge made an immediate effect.

He volleyed a stinging volley across Pinto’s goal that drifted wide of the far post, then he and Juan Mata combined to set up a chance for Pablo Hernandez, but his shot curled inches wide of the far post.

Guardiola shuffled his starting eleven, replacing Javier Mascherano with Pedro, and after Messi proving incapable of finding the net, he proved that even when not at his best, he can make the difference for the champions.

With fifteen minutes remaining, an enterprising run from Adriano on the left saw the Brazilian cut inside and slide a pass into Messi’s path, who struck towards the corner, and despite the best efforts of Guaita, the ball dribbled into the corner of the net.

It was the winner that Guardiola had been searching for, and the drive had been knocked from Emery’s team. They were unable to create another opportunity on goal, and as a result Barca edge ever closer to clinching their third consecutive league title.

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