Monday, 21 May, 2018

Barca extend unbeaten La Liga record with Valencia defeat

Lionel Messi Barcelona Roma Champions League GETTYLionel Messi failed to perform as Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League by Roma
Lucia Summers | 15 April, 2018, 07:21

Marcelino's Champions League hopefuls got a goal back through Parejo's late penalty but could not complete the turnaround, ensuring Barca surpassed the previous record of 38 games unbeaten that they shared with Real Sociedad in winning fashion.

Ernesto Valverde's side lead nearest challengers Atletico Madrid by 14 points in the standings, with Atletico hosting Levante and fourth-placed Real visiting basement club Malaga on Sunday.

The win was also something of a tonic after the criticism of their collapse in Europe on Wednesday, when they lost 3-0 at Roma to go out at the quarter-final stage on away goals.

Valencia are among the sides to have troubled Barca this season, having coming within eight minutes of beating them in December before the sides drew 1-1.

A rainy day and a subdued crowd of just 69,544 spectators - well short of the 99,354 capacity - was reflected in a turgid opening spell for Barca, until Suarez struck to break the deadlock and restore some cheer to the stands 15 minutes in. A minute later, Coutinho's corner was headed into the bottom-right corner by Umtiti, despite Neto's best efforts to keep the ball out. Valencia remained third on 65 points.

Four minutes after Barca's opener, Rodrigo Moreno took advantage of a defensive mix-up to strike a shot which Andre Ter Stegen pushed onto the crossbar with his left hand.

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Both teams played attacking of football but Valencia keeper, Neto, was kept busy by the menacing Catalan forwards.

However, Los Che could not get the ball over the line and were punished when Samuel Umtiti then doubled the hosts' lead on 51 minutes, heading home Coutinho's corner.

What are your thoughts on setting a new unbeaten Liga record? We're focused. Obviously what happened in the Champions League was bad.

Suarez, who opened the scoring before Samuel Umtiti's header sealed the win, says the reaction from some of the press and the fans makes it feel as though winning the domestic title nearly does not matter.

"We know it's been a tough week but a win today was a must. We wanted to reach the final".

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