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Valencia v Barcelona Live Commentary, 02/05/2021

FT
2 - 3
VAL
BAR
Gabriel Paulista (50)
Carlos Soler (83)
L. Messi (57)
A. Griezmann (63)
L. Messi (69)
Estadio de Mestalla

Commentary

That is all from this LaLiga fixture, until next time!
A 3-2 win here pushes Barcelona up to second in LaLiga, two points behind Atletico Madrid, who they host next Saturday. That clash will play a large part in deciding who wins the league, given there is only four league games left to play. Valencia next face Real Valladolid as the hosts look to improve on their 14th-place standing in the Spanish top-flight.
Barcelona win 3-2 on the road to keep the pressure on league-leaders Atletico Madrid. After a fairly quiet first half, Gabriel headed home a second-half opener, despite Ter Stegen's best claims for a foul from Soler's corner. Messi then had the chance to respond from the penalty spot, however, his effort was saved but the Argentine made up for it moments later by scrambling home on the rebound from Pedri's shot. Griezmann's tap-in put the visitors ahead before a wonderful free-kick from Messi seemed to have sealed the game. An equally impressive right-footed long-range strike from Soler gave Valencia hope, however, they couldn't find a late equaliser at the end.
90' + 4' FULL-TIME: VALENCIA 2-3 BARCELONA
90' + 3' Griezmann has the chance to drive down the left flank but instead he finds Messi in the centre. The Argentine fakes to shoot, dancing around two or three tackles before playing backwards to retain possession and waste some more vital seconds.
90' + 1' There will be four minutes of added time as Roberto and his team-mates take an age to wander up the pitch towards a throw-in in the right-hand corner.
90' The visitors head clear on the edge of the area and Oliva looks to recreate Soler's goal but he smashes a right-footed effort from a similar distance high into the stands.
88' De Jong takes charge as he coasts past two tackles before Wass stops his progress, just as the Dutchman thought he had made it through the middle towards Cillessen's goal. A vital intervention by Wass keeps Valencia in the game.
86' Ter Stegen, already on a booking, takes his time as he bounces the ball in his hands before going long. Gracia paces about on the touchline and his side have four minutes plus additional time to find a late equaliser.
85' Barcelona are winless in their last three games at Mestalla in LaLiga (D2 L1), their worst such run without a win away against Valencia since April 1992 (D3 L2). Their winless run is set to end here, if they can hang on for five or so more minutes.
C. Oliva
Assist
Valencia
83' Griezmann passes to Moriba, who loses out to Oliva in the middle. After winning the ball, Oliva plays sidewards to Soler, who produces a remarkable right-footed finish into the top left corner from 35 yards to make it 3-2.
Carlos Soler
Goal
Valencia
83' WHAT A GOALLL! VALENCIA PULL ONE BACK TO MAKE IT 3-2! Moriba loses out in the middle and Oliva pokes through to Soler. The midfielder opts to smash a long-range effort with his right foot from 35 yards. Despite having a perfect view, Ter Stegen can’t stop Soler’s strike as he watches it travel past him and into the top left corner. Valencia have pulled one back and Barcelona could be in for a nervy ending.
82' De Jong dummies a pass, letting the ball run past him and into the area. Diakhaby gets caught by surprise and the ball clips his hand but the referee waves play on. Despite Barcelona's appeals for a penalty, the referee disagrees and VAR sticks with the original decision.
81' Messi dances past a couple of tackles in the middle before feeding Griezmann to the right of goal. The French forward looks to cut back to Messi but Moriba gets in his way and the visitors manage to intervene.
80' Messi drives into the box, evading a tackle on the right before attempting to offload to De Jong. Gabriel, however, is on hand to intercept before the Dutchman gets the opportunity to test Cillessen.
C. Oliva
U. Račić
Valencia
79' Racic also makes way and Oliva is the man to replace him.
K. Gameiro
Hugo Guillamón
Valencia
79' Defender Guillamon makes way as Gracia sends on Gameiro to chase this game.
77' Roberto twists and turns past Diakhaby inside the area on the right but his cross towards the back post is overhit. Alba recovers before sensibly opting to play backwards as this game approaches its final ten minutes.
Sergi Roberto
S. Dest
Barcelona
75' Dest comes off at the same time as Moriba's introduction. The second of Koeman's double change sees Roberto introduced at right wing-back.
Ilaix Kourouma
Pedri
Barcelona
74' Pedri is Koeman's first change as he wanders off to be replaced by Moriba.
73' There is a little bit of a lack of communication between Pique and Araujo, which invites Gomez to attack to the left of goal. Pique recovers, however, sweeping a right-footed clearance away before seeing the offside flag has gone up against Gomez anyway.
72' Barcelona have scored in each of their last 26 LaLiga matches (65 goals), their best league scoring run within a single season since June 2013 (38 matches and 115 goals overall).
71' De Jong is disappointed with the referee's decision as he is deemed to have fouled Soler in the middle. The hosts get another chance to cross from a set-piece but Araujo does well to head away before blocking on the rebound outside the area.
L. Messi
Goal
Barcelona
69' GOALLLLL! 3-1 BARCELONA! Wass and Soler’s foul on Messi outside the area gets punished by the Argentine. Messi takes the central free-kick, which is around 20 yards from goal in the middle, whipping it over the wall and into the goal off the right-hand post. Cillessen has no chance as he dives at full stretch, only to see the effort cannon past him, via the help of the upright.
67' Wass and Soler combine to bring down Messi outside the area and the away side get a free-kick, 20 yards from goal in the centre. The midfield duo protest their innocence but they have offered another chance to the Argentine.
M. ter Stegen
Yellow Card
Barcelona
65' Ter Stegen becomes the first of Koeman's players to go into the book as the referee deems the German goalkeeper to be guilty of wasting time.
M. Diakhaby
Toni Lato
Valencia
64' Lato, who gave away the penalty to let the visitors back into this game, makes way for Diakhaby as Gracia makes his first change.
A. Griezmann
Goal
Barcelona
63' GOALLL!! 2-1 BARCELONA! Alba finds space in the left-hand channel, swinging a cross towards the back post, where De Jong sees his low header saved by Cillessen, who dives to his right to save. The rebound falls kindly to the feet of Griezmann, who pokes a left-footed shot over the line from close range. Barcelona have turned this game around in a matter of minutes!
61' Gracia looks to be preparing some changes on the touchline. The hosts had the lead for all of seven minutes and their head coach will be frustrated in the manner in which they offered Barcelona a route back into the game.
59' Messi has scored 30 goals in 36 games against Valencia in all competitions. Only against Sevilla (38 in 43) and Atletico Madrid (32 in 42) has the Argentine scored more goals in his career.
L. Messi
Goal
Barcelona
57' GOALLLL! 1-1! Messi strolls up to the penalty, firing a tame left-footed effort low towards the bottom left corner, where Cillessen saves. Busquets is first to the rebound and a follow-up comes from Pedri, which Gabriel blocks on the line before Messi scrambles a left-footed strike into the back of the net, much to the dismay of the Valencia defence who thought they had dealt with the danger.
J. Cillessen
Penalty Save
Valencia
57' Cillessen guesses the right way, diving low to his right to parry away Messi's tame penalty effort.
L. Messi
Penalty Miss
Barcelona
57' PENALTY MISS! Messi wanders up to the penalty, firing a low, left-footed effort straight into the hands of Cillessen, who dives to his right and parries away. A slow run-up to the penalty by Messi followed an even slower strike as the Argentine seemed to get his attempt all wrong.
Toni Lato
Yellow Card
Valencia
56' Lato goes into the book for handling the ball but, more importantly, concedes a penalty to offer the visitors a way back into the game.
56' PENALTY TO BARCELONA! Messi chips over the top for the forward run of De Jong into the area. Lato recovers and looks to have headed back to Cillessen. The referee, however, spots Lato has handled the ball to intervene and awards a penalty to the hosts. VAR has a quick check and sticks with the original decision.
55' Messi sends in a corner but Cillessen outjumps Araujo to claim above the centre-back. For his bravery, the referee gives Cillessen the free-kick, despite taking a different view on the earlier challenge on Ter Stegen for the opening goal.
54' Griezmann looks to respond for his side, striking a left-footed attempt into the chest of Guillamon and out for a corner on the left for the visitors.
52' OVER! The hosts, buoyed on by Gabriel's opener, go close again through Correia. Lato cuts inside from the left, feeding the perfect throughball to Correia on the opposite side of the area. The right-back has escaped the attentions of Alba but can only smash a right-footed effort over the bar with just Ter Stegen to beat.
Carlos Soler
Assist
Valencia
50' Soler delivers a corner from the left-hand side, inswinging with his right foot. Ter Stegen comes to claim but ends up on the floor, blocked by his own player and another two Valencia shirts. Due to the goalkeeper's poor positioning, Gabriel heads into an empty net to open the scoring.
Gabriel Paulista
Goal
Valencia
50' GOALLLLL!! 1-0 VALENCIA! Guedes misses a chance but wins a corner for his side. Soler takes the corner from the left-hand side, swinging it over the head of Ter Stegen and into the path of Gabriel. The goalkeeper goes down, perhaps blocked by a Valencia player inside the area, and Gabriel heads into an empty net. VAR has a check of the block on Ter Stegen before allowing the goal to stand.
49' CHANCE! Gomez leads the Valencia counter-attack as he races through the middle before choosing the unselfish option of rolling through his striker partner into the area. Guedes takes one touch to beat Pique, going one-on-one with Ter Stegen before firing his shot into the feet of the goalkeeper.
48' The second half starts as the first ended, with Barcelona dominating possession outside the area, knocking it around to drag the Valencia defence from side to side. The visitors do win a free-kick in the left-hand channel, however, they opt to go short and keep the ball at feet.
46' Referee Martinez gets the second half underway!
Koeman will be satisfied with his team's first-half showing, however, they need to be more clinical here. The Dutch manager may want to introduce the likes of Dembele or Moriba if the game remains level in the second half. Gracia, in contrast, will be happy with his side's performance but he too will want them to be more clinical on the counter-attack when the chance presents itself.
Barcelona started strongly, with Pedri nearly opening the scoring in the third minute after a wonderful, intricate move from the visitors. Araujo and Messi have both gone close for Koeman's men, however, neither have beaten Cillessen. Down the other end, Gaya looked like beating Ter Stegen but dragged his effort wide of the target. These sides go in at 0-0 at the break, in a game which Barcelona desperately need to win.
45' + 1' HALF-TIME: VALENCIA 0-0 BARCELONA
45' Another cross comes in from the left, this from De Jong. Pedri moves back to latch onto the ball, however, he catches Racic to offer the hosts a free-kick inside their own area and a well-deserved breather.
44' Griezmann's frustrations are audible as he becomes the next of the away side's attackers to go inches away from one of Alba's cross. The left wing-back is repeatedly finding space to provide teasing deliveries and it seems only a matter of time before one gets turned past Cillessen.
42' Gomez goes down holding his head after being caught by Araujo's knee in the middle. The referee waves play on, much to the annoyance of Gracia on the touchline as the Valencia head coach gets into a disagreement with the fourth official.
41' Dest does excellently as he races inside to cover for Pique and intervene as Guedes looks to lead a counter-attack. Moments before, Pedri was inches away from getting on the end of Alba's cross but Cillessen pushed away the danger in front of the Spanish youngster.
39' The visitors probe for two or three minutes with the ball outside the area but they can't break down the Valencia defence. Araujo, De Jong and Dest all try to cross or play through intricately but the hosts stand firm as they continue to defend deep.
37' Gracia has collected points in four of his seven games against Barcelona in LaLiga (W1 D3 L3), but also suffered his biggest defeat as a manager in the competition against them (0-7 as Osasuna boss in March 2014)
U. Račić
Yellow Card
Valencia
35' Racic goes into the book as he catches Pedri with a loose arm in the middle of the park. Messi whips in the resulting set-piece, which harmlessly travels out for a goal-kick.
33' A first corner of the game comes on the right for Valencia. The hosts go short from the set-piece and Barcelona clear with ease as the likes of Gabriel and Guillamon are nowhere near the cross.
31' CLOSE! Messi cuts inside from the right of the area and goes down under the pressure of Gaya. The referee awards a set-piece, 20 yards from goal, which Messi takes. The Argentine whips over the wall but his left-footed strike also goes just over the bar as he set his sights on the top right corner.
30' Lenglet tactically fouls Gomez inside Valencia's half to stop the hosts from quickly breaking. Despite the French defender's cynical intervention, he escapes a booking from the referee, perhaps moving onto his last warning.
28' Gomez makes a run into the area, waiting for the cross from the left-hand channel by Gaya. The left-back delivers, however, Ter Stegen is on hand to intervene before the forward can challenge the Barcelona goal.
26' SAVE! Gaya, who has been the hosts' best attacking outlet so far, powers to the byline on the left and pulls back to the edge of the D. Racic runs onto his captain's offload, attempting to place a right-footed shot towards the bottom left corner, where Ter Stegen saves without having to parry away.
25' Griezmann wanders inside, reaching the away side's area before rolling through for Alba. The left wing-back whips another low cross across the face of goal but this time Gabriel manages to get a toe on the ball to divert it away from the incoming Messi inside the six-yard area.
24' No other team has scored more goals from high turnovers this season in LaLiga than Barcelona (6), while Valencia are the only team that has failed to score this way this season in the competition.
23' Pedri hesitates on the edge of the area and Soler catches the back of his ankle as he pokes away a clearance. The referee sees it differently, allowing play to go on before VAR confirms there is no need to award a penalty.
22' Koeman's side are relentless in their pressure high up the pitch as they look to force Gracia's men into a mistake. On this occasion they win the ball on the right, however, Dest loses out one-on-one with Gaya and the opportunity fades away.
20' CLOSE! Valencia have the chance to counter-attack after winning possession on the halfway line. Gaya rushes up in support, receiving the ball from Guedes and making it to the area before dragging a left-footed attempt just wide to the right of Ter Stegen's goal. Barcelona were caught sleeping there and they are lucky the full-back didn't punish them.
18' The visitors play lovely, flowing football on the move, with Messi finding De Jong and the midfielder rolling in Alba. The left wing-back reaches the byline, firing a low, left-footed cross across the face of goal but there is no forward to turn it past Cillessen.
16' Lenglet clatters into the back of Guedes to offer the home side a free-kick, 35 yards from goal to the right of centre. Soler and Lato stutter before delivering and Pique manages to smash a clearance away inside the area under relatively little pressure.
14' Messi and De Jong exchange a one-two but the former can't quite get to the ball as he races into the hosts' area. The Dutch midfielder seems to be enjoying himself more here, having moved forward into midfield after covering for Pique at centre-back in the last month or so.
13' SAVE! Messi clips a free-kick, around 35 yards from goal, over the Valencia defence and towards the penalty spot. Pique looks like getting to it but it finds Araujo, who volleys a right-footed effort at Cillessen from close range. The goalkeeper parries away a save and the hosts hook a clearance away inside the six-yard area.
12' Guillamon pulls out of defence to win the ball back but ends up fouling Pedri 35 yards from goal. Koeman's men will have a set-piece to the left of goal, which Messi stands over as he watches his defenders come forward.
11' Valencia are unbeaten in their last eight home games in LaLiga (W4 D4), the joint-best ongoing run without a loss at home of any team in the competition, alongside Athletic Club (W3 D5).
10' The away side manipulate possession from side to side, with Lenglet eventually going more direct and finding the head of Griezmann. The French forward gets in front of his man inside the area but can only send his headed effort well over the bar.
9' Despite Pedri's close effort in the third minute, it has been a fairly slow start to proceedings here. The hosts are sat deep inviting Barcelona, who are remaining patient, to attack. The visitors have seen the majority of the ball and are encouraging their wing-backs to push as high up the pitch as possible.
7' Gomez uses his experience as he backs into Lenglet on the left of the Barcelona defence. The referee doesn't fall for the forward's tactics, however, as he awards the away side a free-kick in their own half.
6' Griezmann acts as a decoy, letting a throughball run through his legs for the incoming Dest. The right wing-back powers forward but his progress is stopped by Gabriel, who calmly knocks back to his goalkeeper and Valencia regain possession.
5' Gaya roams forward, forcing Dest to follow him and chase a long ball on the left flank. The left-back has the beating of the American, however, the assistant has their flag up for offside and the move comes to an end.
3' WIDE! Intricate passing outside the area by the visitors sees de Jong break into the box, after a smart pass by Griezmann. The Dutchman opts to tee up Pedri, who fires a right-footed strike just wide of the right-hand post. A great Barcelona move, which deserved a goal, will serve as a warning sign for Gracia's men already.
2' Alba searches for Griezmann in the left-hand channel in the opening stages, however, Correia gets his first touch to intervene before the Frenchman can capitalise.
1' Referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez gets this game underway!
Valencia have won just one of their last nine games against Barcelona in LaLiga (D4 L4), although that was this exact fixture last season (2-0). Valencia have not won back-to-back games at home against the Catalans in the competition since 2007, both under Quique Sanchez Flores.
Koeman opts for four changes after disappointment against Granada. At the back, Mingueza and Umtiti are replaced by Araujo and Lenglet, who will work either side of Pique in the visitors’ three-man defence. Dest comes in for Roberto, who has only recently returned from injury, while Pedri replaces Moriba to join De Jong in midfield.
Gracia makes three changes from his team’s draw at home to Alaves. Musah and Gameiro drop to the bench as Correia and Lato come into the starting line-up. This change means Wass will move forward into midfield and Guedes will operate as a forward alongside Gomez. The other change sees Cillessen return in goal for Domenech, who moves to the bench.
SUBS: Samuel Umtiti, Riqui Puig, Neto, Arnau Tenas, Trincao, Ousmane Dembele, Sergi Roberto, Matheus Fernandes, Oscar Mingueza, Miralem Pjanic, Ilaix Moriba, Junior Firpo.
BARCELONA (3-5-2): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Ronald Araujo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet; Jordi Alba, Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Sergino Dest; Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi.
SUBS: Manu Vallejo, Yunus Musah, Lee Kang-In, Mouctar Diakhaby, Cristiano Piccini, Christian Oliva, Ferro, Denis Cheryshev, Eliaquim Mangala, Jaume Domenech, Kevin Gameiro, Alex Blanco.
VALENCIA (4-4-2): Jasper Cillessen; Jose Gaya, Gabriel Paulista, Hugo Guillamon, Thierry Correia; Daniel Wass, Uros Racic, Carlos Soler, Toni Lato; Goncalo Guedes, Maxi Gomez.
Barcelona missed the chance to top the table as they fell to a shock 2-1 defeat against Granada in midweek. Ronald Koeman’s side sit in third, five points behind league-leaders Atletico Madrid but with a game in hand. Koeman was also sent off during the Granada clash, meaning he will serve a two-match suspension and be absent from the touchline here.
A disappointing campaign for Valencia has left them in 14th position, a standing which could further worsen with Barcelona and Sevilla to play in two of their next three league games. Last time out, the hosts drew 1-1 with Alaves, making it five LaLiga fixtures without a win. However, Javi Gracia’s team have only lost three of 16 home league fixtures this season, so by no means will they be pushovers against Barcelona.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the LaLiga fixture between Valencia and Barcelona.