Barca Moves Closer to Title

Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti scores his side’s second goal past Valencia’s Neto.Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti scores his side’s second goal past Valencia’s Neto.

Barcelona responded to the shock of being eliminated from the Champions League by AS Roma by beating Valencia 2-1 on Saturday at the Nou Camp, setting a La Liga record run of 39 games unbeaten which is also taking the team ever closer to another title.

Luis Suarez gave Barca the lead after 15 minutes, meeting a delicious outside-of-the-foot pass from former Liverpool team mate Philippe Coutinho and scoring with one touch from close range, Reuters reported.

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 back a goal 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 to within seven points of its 25th league title.

Ernesto Valverde’s side leads nearest challengers Atletico Madrid by 14 points in the standings.

The Barca coach praised his players for putting the Roma defeat behind but said the European exit had punctured the players’ enthusiasm for the unbeaten record.

“This wasn’t a week to think about records, we don’t give it too much importance. It was more important that we picked ourselves up after a difficult week,” Valverde told a news conference.

“It’s normal that these players keep on breaking records. But it was a fundamental win in many ways. First of all, I am happy with the three points. We needed 10 points to win league, now it’s seven,” he added.

“The atmosphere around the club this week has been a bit gloomy and we needed to put the brakes on that so I have to congratulate the players because it’s not been easy,” noted Valverde. “The sensation is that we have failed, that we have disappointed the supporters but we have to look forward and not lose sight of what we can still achieve this season.”

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