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La Liga Review – Valiant Valencia fall just short against Barcelona

A fighting comeback effort spearheaded by summer signing Postiga very nearly caused a shock in the Mestalla when the Portuguese striker netted a superb brace just before the half time whistle, at a time when they seemed dead and buried on 41 minutes after going 0-3 down at home to Barcelona.

Barcelona started the match in a rampant mood with Cesc Fabregas controlling the midfield from the off and his superb through ball split the defence after Neymar Jr had ran across the line leaving a gaping hole which none other than Lionel Messi steamed through and finished off the move after the ball had deflected from Diego Alves leaving Messi with a gaping goal.

Valencia nearly levelled soon after with Ever Banega firing a powerful shot that was excellently saved by Victor Valdes in the Barcelona goal who has shown good form so far this season, something the Blaugrana faithful with be pleased with following a number of blunders last season from the Spaniard.

Barca continued to press throughout the half and Valencia were caught out trying to replicate Barca’s style of play with a horrendous pass between the back line allowing Messi to sneak in and accelerate away from Rami and finish making it 0-2 after 39 minutes.

On 41 minutes, Messi had the match ball to his name after fabulous play by Neymar taking on Joao Pereria and cutting back to  an oncoming Messi who slammed the ball home from 10 yards making it 0-3 and it looked like Barca were going to run riot.

However, Valencia then went close on 43’ when postiga had his effort met by Victor Valdes, but 2 minutes later Valencia got their goal after Pabon, whipped in a good cross from the right and Postiga wrapped his legs around Gerard Pique pulling off an outrageous scissor kick that left Victor Valdes with no chance and Valencia were back in the game.

Pedro Rodriguez had a sliding effort on 46’ that went a whisker away from restoring Barca’s 3 goal lead. However, there was to another twist in the tail as Postiga grabbed his and Valencia’s second heading home from a corner and the near post beating Andreas Iniesta in the air. Prior to the corner, Benega had his rocket of an effort plucked out of the top corner by Victor Valdes to consider the corner which the Argentine whipped in for the Portuguese international to grab his second and make it 2-3 on the stroke of half time.

New Valencia number 9 Helder Postiga got the Home supporters back on their feet

The drama continued into the second half with both sides lacking the cutting edge in the final third with Gaurdado lashing wide from a decent angle for Valencia and Messi having his shot saved by Diego Alves after a really poor clearance from Diego Costa.

Barca then had a flurry of chances when in the 61st minute, Messi had a great chance to grab his forth but his shot was straight down the throat of Alves, when really the net was expected to be bulging by all spectators. Moments later, Pedro was picked out by Iniesta but the Barca number 7 put his free header a yard past the post with Alves left stranded on his line.

Pedro and Cesc started to have less effect on the game as it progressed and were replaced by Tello and Dos Santos to offer some fresh legs and pace into the team.

The final 10 minutes saw a rush of chances for Valencia to equalise and Barca extend their lead as Messi shot wide on 82’ after Neymar pulled of an outrageous manoeuvre , controlling the ball, dragging it left then right before flicking the ball straight through three Valencia defenders back into the path of the oncoming Argentine but his shot went agonising wide of the far post. 2 minutes later Messi squandered another great chance and really should have had not just the match ball to take home, but one of the spares too, as his spectacular dribbling and control set himself up beautifully but his shot was smothered by Diego Alves.

Valencia responded through substitute Jonas who dropped the shoulder cutting back on his left to see his curling effort tipped onto the post by Victor Valdes in the 85th minute. Then it was the turn of Diego Alves again to stop first Neymar and then Messi showing incredible reflexes to stop the rebound.

One final effort for a Valencia equaliser came on 93’ but Jonas was too far out to trouble Valdes with his header which fell comfortably for the keeper and his clearance was met by the full time whistle.

It was a great effort by Valencia who looked like they would be hammered after being 0-3 after 41’ but they showed real determination and fight led by summer signing Postiga and backed up by Diago Alves. Many positives can be taken from the game and put towards amending the shaky start to the season for Valencia who looked to be troubled with the absence of Roberto Soldado following his transfer to Tottenham Hotspur. Ideally a new left full back would suit the whites following the departure of Aly Cissokho to Liverpool as Gaurdado’s talents are served better in the midfield than in defence. On a Barca viewpoint, glimpses were on show of what Neymar and Messi can do together, which will  only develop as time goes on. The three points go to the champions but the game could have ended up being extremely different.

Lionel Messi - Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

Messi bagged another career hat-trick before half time.

Final score from the Mestalla, Valencia 2-3 Barcelona.

Barcelona: Valdes – Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba – Iniesta, Busquets, Fabregas (Dos Santos 79) – Neymar (Sergi Roberto 85), Messi, Pedro (Tello 72).

Valencia: Diego Alves – Pereira, Rami, Costa, Gaurdardo – Fuego, Michel (Parejo 82), Pabon, Banega (Fergouhli 68), Sergio Canales (Jonas 68) – Postiga.

MOM: Diego Alves (Valencia – GK)

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