Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

Messi double helps Barca beat persistent Valencia

Messi double helps Barca beat persistent Valencia

Fortunately for Barca, their superstar front three were on form and Neymar teed up Luis Suarez to equalise shortly before Mangala conceded a penalty and was sent off, Lionel Messi duly scoring from the spot.

Mangala sent Valencia ahead in the Camp Nou, only for Luis Suarez to equalize in a chaotic first half which then saw the Valencia defender sent off for pulling Suarez back when through on goal.

Barcelona revert to 3-4-3 for tonight's visit of Valencia, who are spearheaded in attack by former Blaugrana striker Munir El Haddadi.

The hosts pressed hard in search of a fourth throughout the closing stages, Neymar's dynamic solo run down the left flank leading to Andre Gomes's 90th-minute settler from close range, as Barca claimed a win that is vital to their title chances, moving them back to within two points of Madrid, who still hold a game in hand over the reigning champions.

Suarez somehow slotted wide with the goal gaping after Alves had denied Messi his hat-trick, whilst Neymar hit the bar.

Messi made no mistake from the resulting penalty, slotting the ball past Diego Alves.

Munir levelled for Valencia on the brink of half-time but then Messi provided the difference early in the second half.

But Barca finally put the game to bed a minute from time when Neymar crossed for Gomes to tap home against his old side. The France worldwide delivered a cross from a free kick for Diego Godin to head in the opener in the 37th minute then sent the ball fizzing in off the bar from a set-piece in the 61st while Koke tapped in the third in the 77th to seal a third straight league win for Atletico.

The defeat at Atletico came five days after Sevilla failed to protect a 2-1 first-leg advantage and was eliminated from the Champions League Round of 16 after losing 2-0 at Leicester. "That highlights even more how well Atletico played", said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

Also on Sunday Celta Vigo won the Galician derby at Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Iago Aspas while Sporting Gijon beat Granada 3-1 to leapfrog the Andalusians into 18th but remain in the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Malaga and Leganes fought to a goalless draw at the Butarque.

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