Barcelona’s clash with Valencia at the Mestella on Saturday had everything, and the Catalan side also moved back to the top of the La Liga table with a win in highly controversial circumstances.
Barcelona went ahead through a disputed goal from Lionel Messi as an off-side Luis Suárez impeded the view of goalkeeper Dani Alves but Valencia responded with strikes from Munir El Haddadi and Rodrigo.
Barcelona equalised through a typical Suarez strike and, after a hotly fought second half, then managed to get a penalty in the last minute as, after a slight touch from the Valencia defender Aymen Abdennour, Suarez went to the floor with a customary theatrical dive.
Messi stepped up to slide home the decisive penalty, and while it was a joyous moment for Barcelona, it was tampered during the resulting celebrations as bottles were thrown at the Barcelona players.
Both Suarez and Neymar were felled after the incident, which prompted Messi to launch a foul-mouthed tirade, captured on camera, against the Valencia fans behind the goal.
It is not known if Messi will face any sanctions for his outburst but what seems certain is that Valencia will have to pay some sort of fine or possibly be docked points for the unacceptable behaviour of their fans. The side, who were managed by Gary Neville last season, are now under the care of ex-Italian boss Cesare Prandelli. He took over from ex-Liverpool assistant Pako Ayastaran in September.
Unfortunately for the Valencia faithful, the dismissal of Neville hasn’t automatically resulted in a dramatic upturn in the side’s fortunes as the club are currently fifteenth in the table on nine points. Barcelona, meanwhile, are back on top with 19 points, but Atletico and Real Madrid, who are both just a point behind, both have a game in hand on their Catalan-based rivals.
Mark Townsend, Pundit Arena
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