A Lionel Messi brace helped Barcelona come from behind to beat Valencia 3-2 as the Catalans kept up with the two Madrid clubs at the top of La Liga.
Ronald Koeman’s side travelled to Mestalla having watched Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid claim victories to maintain their title hopes and after falling behind in the second half this was an emphatic response.
Barca started the match on top and could have gone ahead within the first three minutes when Pedri fired wide from inside the box. Ronald Araujo was also presented with a golden opportunity from a Lionel Messi freekick, but couldn’t beat Jasper Cillessen.
Despite the visitors’ dominance it was Valencia who took the lead when Gabriel Paulistra crept around the back of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the Barcelona defence to head into the gaping net.
The response from Barcelona was emphatic who quickly equalised through Messi who bundled home from close range after he’d had a spot kick saved by Cillessen. And Antoine Griezmann put Barca in front with an opportunistic finish.
Messi scored his second, and Barcelona’s third, of the night with a trademark freekick effort into the Valencia net. Carlos Soler struck the goal of the game with six minutes left, thundering home a shot from 25 yards, to give Valencia hope, but there wasn’t to be a second comeback.
The result keeps Barca in the thick of the La Liga title race, with just two points between them and pace-setters Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.
More to follow.