Valencia 0 – 1 Barcelona: Lewandowski rescues Barça in Mestalla
A goal in the added time gave the triumph to Barça, who improved their image but were not precise in the final third
There was a reaction after the disappointment in the Champions League and Barça offered an improved image in Mestalla, but Lewandowski had to appear in the added time to secure the victory and maintain Barcelona’ good league dynamics. The Polish striker, kept his outstanding goal record, finished off a pass from Raphinha and unleashed the joy of Barça. it’s now 13 goals for Lewandowski in LaLiga Santander, who continues to show that his signing was a success.
With Gavi still not fit, Xavi bet on returning to his usual tactics with two wingers in Dembélé and Ansu Fati to support Lewandowski in the attack, while Balde occupied the right-back and Jordi Alba returned to starting lineup. The rest as expected, with the pair Koundé-Eric as central defenders and the core formed by Busquets, De Jong and Pedri in the midfield. For his part, Gattuso – Valencia’ coach – also pulled out the planned eleven after recovering Cömert and not being able to count Nico as he could not play for the ‘clause’ in his loan contract from barça, while there was Ilaix and Musah in the hosts side.
Valencia started with enthusiasm and tried from the first minute with a shot from Lino but Ter Stegen dealt with it without problems. Barça did not want to repeat the mistakes of the past and moments later was about to take advantage of an error from the goalkeeper, Mamardashvili, but neither De Jong nor Ansu managed to finish after the reaction of the host’ defense.
As the time goes, Barça was finding control of possession and Pedri was much more comfortable as an interior, invented a great pass for the race of Ansu, but Fati failed with good anticipation from Mamardashvili. Valencia were going through some difficulties and their situation worsened with the injury of Cavani, who at 18 minutes left his place to Marcos André. Barça’ control continued to grow, with a dominating Lewandowski in the individual duels and Koundé immeasurable in defense, and five minutes later they were canceled a goal by Ansu Fati out of previous play.
Xavi was comfortable in the match, but some inaccuracies in the passes gave wings to a Valencia in the final stretch of the first part. Ansu and Koundé tried with two attempts that did not find goal and Eric Garcia, with discomfort in the groin of the left thigh, had to be replaced by Marcos Alonso with five minutes left for the first half. When it seemed that the break was reached without goals, Lewandowski had a header stopped by the post and the hosts responded with another header of Gabriel who came out grazing the goal, but the score remained goalless.
In the second half, Valencia kept the good level growing and put the fear in the body to Barça after a goal of Lino that was canceled with revision of the VAR as there was a handball on the build up by Marcos André. This was the best moments of the hosts and Xavi turned to the bench to prevent the game from getting out of hand. Ferran Torres – a former Valencia player – entered for Dembélé, then Raphinha and Gavi replaced Ansu and Busquets and Barça had more calm with the ball, but without generating clear danger.
The match entered a phase with many interruptions and Barça saw the bad news of a new injury to Koundé. The Frenchman noticed discomfort in the hamstrings, an injury that had already been affected a few weeks ago, and asked for the change. Piqué, the only healthy available center back, took his place and complied. Barça tried to find Lewandowski to snatch the game, but the defense led by Gayà left no room for the Polish striker.
The 0-0 did not seem to satisfy either team and with five minutes to go to the end of the regular time Ferran Torres had a clear cut chance, but the Spaniard failed with everything in his favor to score, the same happened later with Raphinha but with the same outcome. In the final stage, Barça kept pushing and got the prize thanks to their usual star. Lewandowski, with an acrobatic action to Raphinha’s pass, to give victory to Barça in the added time.
With the win, Barça reached 31 points and puts pressure on the leaders, Real Madrid, who have the same points as the culés and this Sunday will seek to place as a solo leader of LaLiga Santander in the visit of Girona to Santiago Bernabéu.