Barcelona 4 - 2 Valencia: Messi and Neymar lead Barcelona to victory



Posted Monday, March 20, 2017 by PA

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat Valencia 4-2 to cut the gap to leaders Real Madrid to two points.

Barca were desperate for a victory to keep the pressure on Real after handing the initiative to their rivals following last weekend's surprise defeat at Deportivo La Coruna.

But they were given a huge scare by Valencia, who took the lead through Eliaquim Mangala before Luis Suarez equalised.

Mangala then gave away a penalty and was sent off, with Messi converting from the spot, only for the 10 men to level immediately through on-loan Barcelona winger Munir El Haddadi, all before half-time.

But Messi scored early in the second half to secure a crucial victory and keep Barca on Real's tail.

Neymar was passed fit so Barca boss Luis Enrique named the same team which began their last game at the Nou Camp - the remarkable Champions League comeback against Paris St Germain.

Messi had an early effort blocked on the line before tip-toeing around three defenders and curling narrowly over, and Barca appealed for a penalty to no avail when Joao Cancelo tripped Neymar.

But the hosts still looked vulnerable at the back and were given a warning when Carlos Soler forced a smart save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Munir then broke in behind his parent club's defence, forcing Ter Stegen to come out to block.

And from the corner Valencia took the lead, Manchester City loanee Mangala rising in the area to nod home Daniel Parejo's corner.

However, the lead lasted just six minutes before Neymar's quick throw-in caught the Valencia defence napping and Suarez raced through to equalise.

A minute before half-time Mangala tugged back Suarez in the area to earn his marching orders before Messi tucked away the spot-kick.

But the drama did not end there as the 10 men immediately hauled themselves level, with Barca's own player doing the damage.

This time Barcelona switched off at the back and Jose Luis Gaya squared for Munir to find the net, prompting a distinctly muted celebration.

But eight minutes after the break Messi fired the hosts back in front, wriggling past Aymen Abdennour before beating Alves at his near post.

Neymar almost got onto the scoresheet with 14 minutes left but his free-kick struck the post.

But Barca wrapped up the victory two minutes from the end when Neymar burst down the left and picked out Andre Gomes for a tap-in.

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