Barca wins at home
16 April, 2018, 12:00 am
BARCELONA – Barcelona responded to their shock Champions League elimination to AS Roma by beating Valencia 2-1 on Saturday in a subdued atmosphere at the Nou Camp, setting a Liga record run of 39 games unbeaten and taking them ever closer to another title.
Luis Suarez gave Barca the lead after a quarter of an hour by meeting a delicious outside-of-the-foot pass from former Liverpool teammate Philippe Coutinho, scoring with one touch from close range.
Club-record signing Coutinho then delivered an outswinging corner from which Samuel Umtiti headed in Barca’s second in the 51st minute, shortly after Gerard Pique had saved Umtiti’s blushes by clearing a shot from Valencia forward Santi Mina off the line following a slip by the France defender.
Captain Dani Parejo pulled a goal back for third-placed Valencia by squeezing an 87th-minute penalty under Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but the Catalans withstood an exciting final spell to move effectively to within seven points of their 25th league title.
Ernesto Valverde’s side lead nearest challengers Atletico Madrid by 14 points in the standings, with Atletico hosting Levante and fourth-placed Real visiting basement club Malaga on Sunday.
Meanwhile Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is furious with the continuing fallout from his side’s Champions League quarter-final victory over Juventus, suggesting that people are annoyed at the club’s phenomenal success.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was still complaining on Saturday about his side’s 4-3 aggregate defeat, saying too much injury time had been played, while the decision to award the late penalty to Real for Mehdi Benatia’s challenge has been described by some sections of the Italian —— and even Spanish media —— as “a robbery”.
“It’s a disgrace. I’m very very disappointed that people keep talking about a robbery. We have to stop accusations like this,” Zidane told a news conference on Saturday ahead of his side’s Liga game at basement side Malaga on Sunday.
“Everyone can have their opinion, and I won’t respond to what the players are saying, but all I’ll say is that no-one (in the media) can talk to me about a robbery.