Lionel Messi brace helped Barcelona come from behind to beat Valencia 3-2 as the Catalans kept up with the two Madrid

A Lionel Messi brace helped Barcelona come from behind to beat Valencia 3-2 as the Catalans kept up with the two Madrid clubs at the top of La Liga.
Ronald Koeman’s side travelled to Mestalla having watched Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid claim victories to maintain their title hopes and after falling behind in the second half this was an emphatic response.
Barca started the match on top and could have gone ahead within the first three minutes when Pedri fired wide from inside the box. Ronald Araujo was also presented with a golden opportunity from a Lionel Messi freekick, but couldn’t beat Jasper Cillessen.
Despite the visitors’ dominance it was Valencia who took the lead when Gabriel Paulistra crept around the back of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the Barcelona defence to head into the gaping net.
The response from Barcelona was emphatic who quickly equalised through Messi who bundled home from close range after he’d had a spot kick saved by Cillessen. And Antoine Griezmann put Barca in front with an opportunistic finish.
Messi scored his second, and Barcelona’s third, of the night with a trademark freekick effort into the Valencia net. Carlos Soler struck the goal of the game with six minutes left, thundering home a shot from 25 yards, to give Valencia hope, but there wasn’t to be a second comeback.
The result keeps Barca in the thick of the La Liga title race, with just two points between them and pace-setters Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

TALKING POINT – LA LIGA TITLE RACE SET FOR MOMENTOUS FINALE
Not in living memory has there been a La Liga title race as compelling as this one. With just four games left of the 2020/21 campaign, only two points separate Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Sevilla can keep up with the rest with a win over Athletic Club on Monday evening. In that case, there would be just three points between Spain’s top four. Next weekend, all four will face either other – Barcelona v Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid v Sevilla. This title race is set for a momentous finale.
MAN OF THE MATCH – FRENKIE DE JONG (BARCELONA)
Griezmann and Messi might have delivered the goals to keep Barcelona in the thick of the La Liga title race, but Frenkie de Jong was the driving force behind the win. The Dutchman has been in exceptional form of late and this performance demonstrated all that he offers Barca. De Jong was highly effective both in his protection of the back four and in making runs into the opposition box. Koeman couldn’t have done without him.

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