Football

Barcelona lose to Valencia at the Camp Nou

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Barcelona's 100% record at the Camp Nou in La Liga this season came to an end on Saturday, at the unusual kick-off time of 4pm in the middle of the afternoon. The hosts hadn't lost to 10th-placed Valencia in over a decade, but the visitors did just enough to end that run in a five-goal thriller.

Barcelona took the lead in the seventh minute when Alexis Sanchez fired home Leo Messi's low drilled cross. The Chilean somehow chipped the ball over Valencia keeper Diego Alves from an acute angle as Barca's early domination led to a breakthrough.

The first half continued with Barcelona dominating possession and chances. Sofiane Feghouli forced a decent stop from Valdes five minutes after the goal, but Valencia had few other chances and Barcelona should have capitalised to double the lead.

Sergio Busquets fired just over from distance before Sanchez had a chance to score his 14th La Liga goal, but his header was straight at Alves.

Messi also tested Alves and from the resulting corner Barcelona's Dani Alves then fired a fierce shot a little over the bar.

In total, Barcelona had 14 efforts on goal by the 44th minute, when Valencia's Parejo played a neat one-two with Feghouli and Parejo was able to pass the ball into the empty net after his Algerian team-mate cut the ball back from the byline.

That gave Valencia a boost right before half-time and the Camp Nou crowd was stunned into silence. The stadium was to become even quieter, however, just three minutes after the break when the visitors took the lead via Pablo Piatti.

Piatti lofted a header over Valdes after beating Dani Alves to Barragan's cross and although the home keeper got a touch on the ball, his poor positioning and balance meant that the header still found the net.

Just minutes later, Messi was looking eager to find the net and forced a strong save onto the roof of the Valencia net. A Ricardo Costa handball just moments later gave the hosts a penalty, however, and it was Messi who stepped up to face Alves.

The penalty gave Messi the chance to score his first league goal since netting against Almeria on 28 September and that's exactly what the Argentine did, firing high into the right-hand corner. Diego Aves got a hand to it, but the power took it past the Valencia keeper.

Alves wasn't to concede again for the rest of the game and it was his own team that grabbed the next goal. Feghouli again had the assist as he had with the equaliser, making the most of some poor Barça defending to run past three players to the byline and cut the ball back for Paco Alcácer, who drilled it past a helpless Valdes.

Tata Martino brought on Andres Iniesta for an under-performing Xavi and the Spanish international gave his team-mates a lift on his return from injury. The home side created chance after chance but always looked vulnerable on the counter with only Gerard Pique staying back, struggling more than once to deal with the high and bouncing clearances from the visitors.

The hosts still looked like salvaging something from the match until Jordi Alba picked up a second yellow card in the 78th minute. He was judged to have blocked off Feghouli as the Valencia man looked to start another counter attack and was sent to the dressing room by the referee Pedro Pérez‎.

From then on, Barcelona found it even trickier to create chances, but home full-back Alves forced a top save from his namesake and Messi also forced a strong stop after a stoppage-time chance created from a brilliant passing move between himself, Alves and Iniesta.

There was no miracle of a comeback for the home side, however, and Valencia smartly let time run out with some substitutions and some intelligent time-wasting.

Barcelona have led La Liga for 59 rounds in a row. They could now finish the weekend behind both Real and Atlético Madrid though, who have still to play against Bilbao and Real Sociedad respectively.

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Topics:
La Liga
Barcelona
Lionel Messi
Valencia
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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