Barca win as decisive La Liga clashes loom

·2-min read

Barcelona have come from behind to then hold on for a 3-2 at Valencia to keep alive the most enthralling La Liga title race for years.

The away victory moved Barcelona within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid before their match at the Camp Nou Stadium next weekend.

After a shock home defeat to Granada in midweek, Barca simply had to win at Valencia with the league's top scorer Lionel Messi on target twice and Antoine Griezmann also netting for the visitors.

They were without their coach Ronald Koeman on Sunday, after he was dismissed in their loss to Granada, with assistant Alfred Schreuder directing the team from the touchline.

"We showed character, the reaction was good," Schreuder said.

"We dominated the game against a touch opponent.

"We're alive in La Liga, we are very close, we're up there."

Barcelona are tied on points with second-place Real Madrid with four rounds to go.

Madrid hold a better head-to-head tiebreaker against both rivals at the top.

Sevilla also remain in the title hunt, six points adrift of Atleti, before they tackle Athletic Bilbao at home on Monday.

Sevilla visit Madrid next weekend in another crunch encounter.

At the Mestalla, Gabriel Paulista headed home the opening goal for Valencia in the 50th minute.

Messi led Barcelona's recovery with the equaliser in the 57th.

The Argentina star had his penalty saved by Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen but managed to knock the ball into the net from the ensuing scramble.

Griezmann netted the go-ahead goal six minutes later off another save from Cillessen.

Messi's second goal came with a beautifully struck free kick that curled over the wall and hit the right-hand post before going into the net in the 69th.

He has 28 league goals this season.

However, it was to be a nervy finish to the game for Barca after Carlos Soler's superb 35-yard strike found the top left corner of the net in the 83rd.

Villarreal moved to sixth place by beating Getafe 1-0 at home thanks to a late winner from Yeremi Pino.

Seventh-place Real Betis drew 1-1 at relegation-threatened Valladolid, while Granada lost 1-0 to Cadiz.