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February 19, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Javier Turienzo Álvarez
• Attendance: 74240
Well.. that was some performance from Barcelona after going behind. They ran out eventual 5-1 winners here after absolutely dominating the game following Valencia's only goal in the ninth minute from Piatti. Messi, Iniesta and Sanchez were superb throughout, with Messi scoring four goals to take his tally for the season to 27, equalling that of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo. Barcelona remain 10 points behind the leaders Real Madrid, but this performance will have given them great confidence going into the remainder of the season. That's all from me tonight, thank you for joining me for Goal.com's coverage of the game tonight. Good night.
90' + 3'
The Valencia players must be wishing for this to end. And just as I write that, the referee blows the whistle to end the game. 5-1 it has finished to Barcelona.
90' + 2'
That goal makes it 5-1 here.
90' + 1'
GOOOOALLLL!!! Xavi is in on the dismantling act, just minutes after coming on. He shows outstanding composure inside the area to curl a lob over Diego Alves from 15 yards out. Exquisite technique from the Spaniard.
By the way, hats off to @Don1olamide who predicted earlier on in the match that Messi would go on to score four goals. Great shout!
Alexis curls another chance wide. Barcelona could have had 10 tonight!
Valencia have a chance to grab a goal back with a set-piece but the ball into the box is weak and Barcelona instead look to score up the other end, the ball eventually being fired wide by the substitute Xavi.
Since going behind in the ninth minute Barcelona have been exquisite this evening. It has been a superb team performance, with Messi the undoubted star on his 200th game in La Liga.
Andrés Iniesta Luján
GOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL FOR BARCELONA!!!! MESSI HAS FOUR!!!! What a pass, what a finish, what. a. goal. That is sensational from the home side, an inch perfect pass form Busquets sets Messi free and he lifts the ball over Alves wonderfully for his fourth of the night.
Messi nearly breaks into the penalty area for what must be the 10th time this evening, but Diego Alves rushes out well to pick the ball off the feet of the attacker.
Tello nearly scores his side's fourth but after setting himself well on the left-hand side of the Valencia penalty area, he curls his subsequent effort over Diego Alves' crossbar.
Barca are looking to use the young Tello's lightning pace as Valencia's players tire, with Messi trying to play his team-mate in down the left-hand side on a couple of occasions.
The Barcelona substitute Cristian Tello again does well down the left, and should either score or provide an assist, but instead of doing so, he falls to the turf on the byline. Unfortunate for the youngster.
MESSI HAT-TRICK!!!!! 3-1 to Barcelona. I thought he might produce something special on his 200th La Liga appearance, and the little Argentine has done so. He grabs his third of the night with a neat finish after the ball falls to him 10 yards out following great work down the left by Tello.
The home side are tightening the screw in this game, and are chasing down Valencia's players when they are in possession, resulting in a number of passes back to Diego Alves in the Valencia goal.
Yet it amounts to nothing. They haven't really posed a threat from set pieces tonight, and they have had plenty of opportunities to.
Barcelona with what seems like their 100th corner of the evening...
Valencia are trying in vain to get back into this game, but they do come close to going through on goal as first Jordi Alba and then Roberto Soldado chase on to two high through balls. Valdes is out quickly to avert the danger on both occasions though, and he quickly launches the ball out both times as Barcelona press on for a third goal.
Alexis has been all over the pitch tonight, after making a quite start to the game. He intercepts a weak Feghouli pass inside his own half, before starting a Barcelona attack. Great play from the Chilean.
Valencia are starting to push men forward in search of an equaliser, and they force Valdes into making his first save of the game, from a Soldado effort.
The supposed Barcelona-target Jordi Alba has been introduced as Valencia try and chase this game. He has looked brilliant for the coastal club at times this season.
Yellow Card Roberto Soldado
Messi shifts the ball to Pedro on the left, who then curls a cross to the back post, but Alexis Sanchez cannot quite get on the end of it and the ball runs out for a throw to Valencia.
Despite their dominance Barca have still only got the one goal lead here, if Valencia were to equalise it would turn this game on its head.
Barca break with Soldado down injured for Valencia. They work the ball down the right-hand side and the ball eventually falls to Fabregas in space inside the area, but he can only blaze his shot off target.
@AkinwaAdeolu has made a good point on Twitter. He's commented on how Barcelona need to address their poor starts to recent games. And I certainly agree with him there. They have been brilliant since going behind tonight, but stronger teams might not allow them as much time and space as Valencia have this evening.
MESSI HITS THE CROSSBAR WITH A HEADER!!! But it takes a crucial touch from Alves to send the goal-bound effort on to the bar. What a save that is!!
There is half an hour to go at Camp Nou here and Barcelona are well on top in this game. Valencia have looked bereft ideas tonight, and have only managed a single shot on goal, it has however resulted in their goal.
A let off for Alves there!!
Diego Alves gifts possession to Barcelona with a tame clearance. The fluid Barca frontline move the ball to the right where Alexis Sanchez shapes to shoot, but Jeremy Mathieu has other ideas and throws his body in front of the Chilean's effort.
Iniesta curls an audacious effort towards goal from 25 yards that goes inches wide of the top right-hand corner of Diego Alves' goal. A fine attempt from the Spanish international!
Valencia need to hold on to the ball more successfully on the rare occasions that they do get possession. They are giving the ball straight back to the home side at the moment.
Andres Iniesta's performance tonight has been a joy to behold. He plays a fabulous through ball to Pedro after spinning past a couple of Valencia challenges. The linesman flags Pedro for offside though, in what is a very very tight decision!
Messi shrugs off the attentions of Adil Rami and looks set to fire in a shot on goal but the French defender is able to recover and throw his body in front of the ball.
Alexis drives straight at the heart of the Valencia defence before trying to feed the ball through to Messi, his pass is intercepted well by the back-tracking Albelda though.
Diego Alves palms Fabregas' effort round the post for yet another Barcelona corner. They are dictating the game here. Valencia have their backs against the wall, but still look dangerous on the counter attack!
Adil Rami makes a vital tackle on Sergio Busquets as the midfielder looks to break through Valencia's defence and in on goal.
Alexis has a strong shot blocked as Barcelona make a lively start to this second half. He has come into this game as it has worn on, the Chilean.
There were no changes for either side at the break, however Valencia did introduce Ricardo Costa early on after Miguel was injured as Barcelona equalised through Messi.
And we are back underway at Camp Nou...
While @SecularScience has been impressed by the young Martin Montoya at right-back for Barcelona, and predicts more goals for the home side from Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi.
@Don1olamide thinks that Barca are going to win this one comfortably and he predicts 4 goals for Messi! We shall see!
Don't forget guys, you can get involved in Goal.com's coverage tonight by sending your thoughts to @charliefscott.
HALF-TIME. Barcelona 2-1 Valencia. Barcelona look in control here after looking shaky early on and conceding a soft goal through Pablo Piatti. They came back into the game as the half wore on though, with Messi scoring twice on his 200th appearance in La Liga for the club, to give his side a 2-1 lead at the break. I'll be back in a few minutes for Goal.com's coverage of the second half of this finely poised clash.
45' + 1'
We are into stoppage time in this half, with Barcelona looking for a third before the half ends. Meanwhile, Feghouli is down holding his face for Valencia after a clash with Fabregas.
Again Valencia must play momentarily with ten men, as Costa receives treatment on the sidelines. Barca look to exploit the numerical advantage through Messi, but again Victor Ruiz is on hand to block the Argentine's route to goal. He's played well this half Ruiz.
Ricardo Costa is down and in need of attention. The substitute might have to go off here. He looks in an awful lot of pain.
FABREGAS HITS THE CROSSBAR!!! Barca are close to adding a third through some fine play from Iniesta and Fabregas. The former lifts a delicious lob over the Valencia backline and Fabregas, improvising with his back to the goal, crashes a fine overhead effort onto Alves' crossbar.
Valencia are lacking in ideas going forward as the half draws on, with first Abidal and then Pique muscling Jonas off the ball as he looks to latch on to some hopeful punts forward.
Eric Abidal defends well against Ricardo Costa in the right-back position, and Barca are soon in possession once more.
Alexis fires an effort wide after bulldozing his way into the right-hand side of the area. Barcelona want more goals here.
Barca break through Fabregas and Messi, but can only win a corner off Jeremy Mathieu after Messi's lofted through ball.
Yellow Card Tino Costa
Messi and Iniesta are clicking tonight. This time the Argentine turns provider, slipping the ball through to Iniesta, who is inches away from flicking the ball past the onrushing Alves and into the empty net. Wonderful stuff from the Barca pair!
THAT WAS VERY NEARLY SUPERB!!!! Messi nearly completes his hat-trick after exchanging passes beautifully with Andres Iniesta on the edge of Valencia's penalty area. Luckily for Valencia, Victor Ruiz is again there to block the effort on goal.
What a response from the home side after conceding that early Pablo Piatti goal. They have dominated the game in the past ten minutes, and could be more than a goal ahead already.
And now Cesc drags a shot wide!! Barca are rampant here!!
And Barcelona nearly score a third!!! Alexis Sanchez bursts through one-on-one and looks set to increase his side's lead, but his firm shot is saved brilliantly by Diego Alves. Barcelona have reacted superbly to going a goal behind early on.
GOOOOAALLLLL!!!!!! Barcelona take the lead!!!! And it's Messi with his second of the night, a simple tap-in after Diego Alves fumbled the Argentine's first attempt.
Victor Ruiz does well to block a Lionel Messi shot after the Barca forward had strode a number of challenges on his way into the Valencia penalty area.
Piatti plays a sloppy ball through to Jonas as Valencia looked to penetrate Barcelona's backline. Jonas was expecting better there, and he makes his feelings known to his Argentine team-mate.
Ricardo Costa replaces the outgoing Portuguese right-back, making only his fifth appearance in La Liga after falling out of favour with Unai Emery this season.
Valencia go down to ten men momentarily as Miguel is stretchered off after taking a knock in the build up to Barcelona's equaliser.
GOOOAAAALLLL!!!! Messi equalises for Barcelona. That's his 24th in La Liga this season. The Argentine pounces on a mistake from Adil Rami after Pedro drove a ball into the area from the left, composing himself before slipping the ball past Diego Alves.
Iniesta attempts to go it alone inside the Valencia penalty area, evading the challenges of Tino Costa and Miguel before curling an effort goalwards that takes a deflection and goes out for a corner. Exciting play from the midfield maestro.
Valencia counter brilliantly again, this time from a Barcelona corner. Feghouli does superbly on the right, chopping his way past Iniesta before spraying the ball forward to Soldado. Valdes is out well to clear up the danger though.
Tino Costa dispossesses Iniesta brilliantly before looking to release Soldado with a searching long ball. Barcelona do not like the way Valencia's players are pressing them so far.
Valencia appear to have learnt a trick or two from Stoke City following their Europa League clash this week, with Unai Emery's side launching the ball forward in the air a number of the times in the last few minutes.
By the way, it's a certain Lionel Messi's 200th appearance in La Liga tonight... lt would be unlike the Ballon d'Or holder not to mark the occasion with some moment(s) of brilliance. It looks like Barcelona might need him to at this rate...
Barcelona are yet to see much of the ball in this game, and continue to look out of sorts in the league following their loss to Osasuna last week.
The corner is dealt with by Valencia, and they look to launch a counter attack immediately, winning a throw-in deep in Barcelona's half.
Barcelona have a corner...
Pedro fires straight at Diego Alves!! After cutting in from the right, the Spanish forward hits a fairly tame effort towards goal that Alves deals with comfortably.
Valencia have a corner, and are looking for a second! Jonas is eventually robbed of the ball in the area, but Barcelona uncharacteristically immediately give the ball back to Valencia.
Assist Sofiane Feghouli
Goal Pablo Piatti
GOAAAALLLLLL!!!! Valencia take the lead!!! Pablo Piatti makes it 1-0 after confusion between Barcelona's defenders.
Piatti, the smallest player on the pitch, gets the goal after finding space behind Pique and Puyol, and poking the ball past the helpless Victor Valdes. Either the defenders or the goalkeeper needed to claim that ball there! Poor defending.
Valencia look to threaten through the energetic Sofiane Feghouli, but he is penalised for backing into Eric Abidal on the edge of Barcelona's penalty area, conceding possession to the home side.
Messi's set piece strikes the wall, but Puyol does well on the right to keep the ball in play, moving it to Busquets who finds Messi on the edge of the box. He bursts into the area but his shot is blocked well by Ruiz.
Yellow Card Albelda
Tino Costa hacks Busquets down in his own half. Barca take a quick free-kick and are attacking with purpose early on. Lionel Messi is eventually wiped out by Albelda on the edge of the Valencia box, resulting in a yellow card, and a well-placed free-kick for the home side.
David Albelda makes an important interception on the half way line as Martin Montoya looks to surge forward from right-back. Brilliant reading of the game there from the Valencia captain.
Barcelona break through Andres Iniesta down the right but his cross is dealt with fairly comfortably by Victor Ruiz, who heads the ball to safety.
Valencia are pressing Barcelona quickly early on, just as they did in their two recent encounters in the Copa del Rey semi-final. Impressive effort levels from the away side.
And we are underway here at Camp Nou...
Two veterans of La Liga captain the two sides this evening; Carles Puyol and David Albelda, the latter of whom signed a contract extension at Mestalla earlier this week. Valencia will look to his experience this evening.
The teams are just about to make their way out on to the pitch, and we are minutes from getting underway here at Camp Nou. Don't forget everyone, if you want to send me your thoughts on the teams tonight, your predictions for the game, or comment on Banega's ridiculous injury, you can do so on Twitter, at @charliefscott.
The away side will look for some magic from the returning Soldado and for the Brazilian Jonas to continue his fine recent form if they wish to trouble the home side this evening.
Valencia welcome back Roberto Soldado and David Albelda to their starting eleven after both players started their midweek Europa League match against Stoke City on the substitute's bench. However, Ever Banega, one of Valencia's outstanding players this season, misses tonight's game and what looks like the rest of the season after breaking his leg in freak accident at a petrol station this afternoon.
Xavi is on the bench for Barcelona tonight after struggling with a calf problem, while Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano miss the game through suspension. Martin Montoya replaces the Brazilian at right-back, while Gerard Pique returns after being left out against Bayer Leverkusen during the week for "technical reasons".
Valencia (4-2-3-1): Diego Alves; Miguel, Rami, Víctor Ruiz, Mathieu; Albelda, Tino Costa; Feghouli, Jonas, Piatti; Soldado
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdés; Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal; Sergio Busquets, Fàbregas, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Pedro
Here are the teams...
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's coverage of this evening's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Valencia at Camp Nou. I'm Charlie Scott and I'll be guiding you through tonight's action. Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of La Liga to an incredible 13 points with a comfortable win over Racing last night. Should Barcelona lose this one, Valencia will be just 5 points behind the Catalans with their eyes well and truly fixed on stealing second place from Guardiola's men. It's all to play for tonight at Camp Nou.
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