Valencia moved into the European spots with a huge win on Saturday afternoon, as they beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Mestalla.
The hosts were gifted a golden chance to take the lead early on, winning a penalty for a foul on Jose Gaya by Gerard Pique. However, Marc-Andre ter Stegen was there to spare Barcelona's blushes, saving well from Maxi Gomez to keep the game goalless inside the opening 12 minutes.
Valencia were having the better chances, constantly testing ter Stegen in goal. In the space of a few minutes, the German goalkeeper pushed Gomez's fierce effort onto the bar, forced Kevin Gameiro's shot past the post with his fingertips and smothered Francis Coquelin's attempt.
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! pic.twitter.com/cb2iUJhjLj— Valencia CF English 驪 (@valenciacf_en) January 25, 2020
Valencia finally found their breakthrough two minutes after the restart, through an unfortunate own goal from Jordi Alba. The ball fell to Gomez inside the box, and a big deflection off Alba took the ball past ter Stegen and gave the hosts an inevitable lead.
It took until the 74th minute for Barcelona to have their first shot on target, with Lionel Messi sending his free kick goal bound. That was their best chance of the game, but Jaume Domenench made an impressive save to keep the Argentine at bay.
Soon after that, Valencia killed the game off with their second goal of the afternoon. x found Gomez in acres of space, and the Uruguayan delightfully guided into the bottom corner to wrap up a massive win for Los Ches.
Starting XI: Domenench (7); Wass (6), Garay (6), Gabriel (7), Gaya (6); Torres (6), Kondogbia (7), Coquelin (6), Carlos Soler (7); Gameiro (6), Gomez (7*).
Substitutes: Rodrigo (6), Costa (N/A).
STAR MAN - Maxi Gomez had an afternoon to remember for Valencia, in a fantastic display. Despite missing a penalty early on, he bounced back and assisted the first goal before doubling their lead with a wonderful strike, with the Uruguayan striker having an excellent game at the Mestalla.
Key Talking Point
Barcelona had a huge chance to extend their lead at the top of La Liga to three points, with Real Madrid not in action until Sunday. While they had control of the game early on, they were lucky not to go behind through a moment of rashness from Pique that conceded the penalty.
Barca had so many wake up calls throughout the game, but they remained lethargic and lacklustre all afternoon long. Valencia's first goal had been coming, and when Gomez wrapped it up the game was beyond Barcelona, who never seemed like showing that quality to go and win.
Quique Setien's arrival seemed to be the change the Blaugrana needed, but a poor display at the Mestalla shows the same problems are there. It was a very underwhelming performance from Barcelona, who only have themselves to blame for a damaging defeat.
Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7*); Roberto (6), PIque (5), Umtiti (6), Alba (5); Arthur (5), De Jong (7), Busquets (5); Fati (5), Griezmann (5), Messi (6).
Substitutes: Vidal (5), Rakitic (N/A), Callado (N/A).
STAR MAN - With the absence of quality outfield, Marc-Andre ter Stegen was the standout player for Barcelona. The German goalkeeper was outstanding in between the sticks and pulled off some critical saves, though in the end his
THERE IS A REASON THAT THIS MAN IS THE BEST GOALKEEPER ON THE PLANET.— total Barça (@totalBarca) January 25, 2020
I LOVE YOU TER STEGEN.
It's midweek action in the Copa del Rey next, with Valencia travelling to third division side Cultural Leonesa on Wednesday. Los Ches are back at the Mestalla on the weekend, when they host Celta Vigo next Saturday.
Barcelona have two home games in three days, starting with the visit of Leganes in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. The Blaugrana then entertain Levante at the Camp Nou on Sunday, as they hope to extend their lead at the top of La Liga.