Valencia 0-1 Barcelona: Relief for Xavi as Robert Lewandowski nets a last-gasp winner at the Mestalla to ease the pressure on his under-fire manager… after a frustrating night saw Ferran Torres miss a sitter and Jules Kounde hobble off injured
- Barcelona snatched victory against Valencia in stoppage time on Saturday
- Robert Lewandowski was at it again as he netted his 13th goal of the season
- The results eases pressure on boss Xavi – but it was a frustrating night for Barca
- Jules Kounde went off injured and the away side missed a succession of chances
Robert Lewandowski scored three minutes into injury time to give Barcelona a 1-0 win over Valencia.
He had waited all night for what was only the second decent pass he had received – the first he had nodded on to the post in the first half – and when it came from Raphinha’s cross he made no mistake with an outstretched right boot sending the ball past Giorgi Mamardashvili.
There was time for little else once Barça had stopped celebrating, just enough for a 10-man ruck on the far touchline after Dmitri Foulquier had pushed Lewandowski over. They were frustrated with the Pole who had snatched all three points at the death. He now has 13 goals in La Liga and 18 in all competition.
Robert Lewandowski netted a late winner for Barcelona in a nervy 1-0 win over Valencia
The striker was starved of service for much of the night before pouncing on Raphinha’s cross
It was a big relief for the Catalan outfit, who had endured a frustrating evening at the Mestalla
Barcelona are lucky to have him and really need to find him more often. It looked as if they would take just a point home after Ferran Torres missed from five yards out against his old club.
It was bad enough that Jules Kounde had hobbled off in the second half and will surely now struggle to play again before the World Cup with what looked like a hamstring strain.
The first half had been frustrating for Barcelona. There was none of the slick interchanging of passing that supporters will be expected this far into the season under Xavi. There was usually no more than one option for the player in possession and there was a carelessness too that spread throughout almost the entire side.
The results will come as a huge boost for boss Xavi, who has come under immense pressure
Valencia: Mamardashvili, Correia (Vasquez 80), Comert, Paulista, Gaya, Almeida (Lato 72), Foulquier, Guilamon, Cavani (Andre 18), Kluivert (Castillejo 72), Lino
Booked: Foulquier, Guillamon, Lino
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Balde, Kounde (Pique 74) Garcia (Alonso 42), Busquets (Gavi 56), De Jong, Pedri, Fati (Raphinha 57), Lewandowski, Dembele (Torres 56)
Booked: Garcia, Pique, Gavi
Goal: Lewandowski 90+3
Ansu Fati was the liveliest. He might have scored when Valencia keeper Mamardashvili gave the ball to Barcelona. He made amends shortly afterwards saving well from Fati after he had run cleverly in behind onto Pedri’s pass.
Fati then scored from Robert Lewandowski’s pass but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Valencia were creating few chances and when Edinson Cavani went off with an ankle injury they looked to have lost potentially their biggest threat. But his replacement Marcos Andre drew fouls from Eric Garcia and Marcos Alonso that brought with them bookings. Alonso had come on for Garcia who limped off injured late in the first half.
Lewandowski hit the foot of a post with that first half header and that was the closest that Barcelona came before the break. De Jong had earlier taken out a cameraman with a wayward shot and Gabriel headed well wide at the other end for Valencia.
A difficult evening also saw Jules Kounde limp off injured in a blow for Barca – and France
The home side thought they had scored five minutes after the break Samu Lino turned in a cross from Thierry Correia. Marcos Andre had nudged the ball on with an outstretched hand before it reached the scorer and it was chalked off.
Barcelona responded to the shock with De Jong playing a superb pass into Fati who shot wide. Xavi responded too, taking off Dembele, Fati and Busquets. Gavi, Raphinha and Torres came on in their place. Torres was whistled on by his former supporters, remembering his departure to Manchester City.
It was Gavi who came close to breaking the deadlock but Pedri’s clever through ball just got away from him.
Things then went from bad to worse for Barcelona when Jules Kounde had to come off holding his left hamstring. Farce followed.
It wasn’t a pretty victory for Barca, but it was a huge one to keep heat on rivals Real Madrid
Gerard Pique didn’t have his boots on and as much as Busquets and goalkeeping coach Jose Ramon de la fuente tried with teeth and fingers neither could unknot them. Eventually he came on alongside Alonso – not the central defensive partnership the club planned in the summer.
With five minutes left Torres had the chance to win it but from five yards out he managed to knock the ball on to his standing foot. The cross from Pedri from Raphinha’s ball over the top was a gift but he had failed to take it and when the rebound bobbled up invitingly Raphinha got there ahead of Lewandowski and put it over.
The former Bayern Munich striker had been starved of service for most of the night and this late chance had been taken from him. But Raphinha made up for it with a perfect cross that he turned in to send Barcelona level on points with Real Madrid who play on Sunday. It wasn’t pretty but as the huddle of celebrating Barcelona players showed at the end – it was a huge win.