Barcelona fell to a costly defeat in their pursuit of the La Liga title at the Mestalla, as they lost 2-0 to Valencia on Saturday afternoon.
Barcelona travelled to the Mestalla top of La Liga on goal difference, knowing that a win would take them three points clear of Real Madrid, who don't play until Sunday. A win for Valencia would take them into fifth, languishing down in eighth at the start of the day.
After a tepid start in which Barcelona dominated possession, Valencia won a penalty after Jose Gaya was brought down by Gerard Pique inside the box. Maxi Gomez stepped up to the spot, but he was denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen who pulled off an excellent save.
Aaaaand @mterstegen1 stones Maxi Gómez on a penalty kick! WALL!!!!— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 25, 2020
Great save from ter Stegen there, Barca dodge a bullet while Valencia miss a golden chance to take the lead from the spot #ValenciaBarça— Nischal (@NischalCFC) January 25, 2020
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen with the penalty save 🖐️ pic.twitter.com/h88WMpGGlU— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 25, 2020
Barcelona were on the back foot in terms of chances, yet ter Stegen stepped up every time to keep out everything Valencia threw his way. He forced Gomez's powerful driven shot onto the crossbar, before tipping Kevin Gameiro's scuffed effort round the post in an excellent double save.
Double save from Ter Stegen!— Frenkie Chief 🇳🇱 (@FrenkieStats) January 25, 2020
Best goalkeeper in the world by a mile
Ter Stegen is just unbelievable— TalkFCB (@FCBNewsRoom) January 25, 2020
Ter Stegen is Barcelona's best player so far— Griezmann Chief (@Griezmannility) January 25, 2020
With Valencia unable to get past the German shotstopper for the duration of the first half, they needed just two minutes of the second half to beat him. Gomez picked up the ball and steadied himself before shooting, with his powerful strike coming off Jordi Alba's side and into the back of the net for the hosts.
I'M DONE WITH JORDI ALBA— بيكيه (@Mohamed_Eslam32) January 25, 2020
JORDI ALBA IS SO BAD BRO— ed (@spededuardo) January 25, 2020
Maxi Gomez 👑— Dani 🦇 (@ValencianistaEN) January 25, 2020
That was the wake up call Barcelona needed, yet they still showed no signs of scoring. The Blaugrana didn't register a shot on target inside the first hour, though Valencia were resilient and somewhat stubborn in defence in their efforts to keep the reigning champions out.
Valencia maintained their momentum and deservedly found their second, Maxi Gomez finally getting his goal. After being denied a goal from the penalty spot and his earlier strike given as an own goal, Gomez struck the ball beautifully into the bottom corner to seal the win for Valencia.
Maxi Gomez Masterclass against Barcelona. Only 22 Years old too.— Antonio🔴 (@Antonio_MUFC) January 25, 2020
Standing ovation for Maxi Gomez as he's replaced - pretty super afternoon for him. On comes Jaume Costa to help shore things up for last 15 mins.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) January 25, 2020
Goal Valencia. 2-0— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 25, 2020
Both sides have a round of 16 tie in the Copa del Rey up next, after both reaching the final last year. Valencia travel to third division side Cultural Leonesa - who knocked out Atletico Madrid - on Wednesday, while Barcelona entertain Leganes at the Camp Nou the following evening.