Madrid: Barcelona snatched a vital 1-0 win away to Valencia on Sunday thanks to Sergio Busquets’s volleyed winner deep into stoppage time. The Spanish international pounced after Diego Alves had made a great save from Neymar’s header to ensure Barca close to within two points of leaders Real Madrid.
And on a day overshadowed by the death of a Deportivo la Coruna fan in violent clashes before Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win over the Galicians, there were more unsavoury scenes at Mestalla as Lionel Messi was struck on the head by a plastic bottle thrown from the crowd with Barca celebrating the winner.
A first home defeat of the season means Valencia remain nine points off the top in fifth. Barca boss Luis Enrique signalled how exacting a test he expected his side to face by naming Javier Mascherano alongside Busquets in midfield for the first time in his tenure.
However, they struggled to control the game in the early stages as Rodrigo forced Claudio Bravo into an early save with a rasping drive. Barca slowly grew into the game, but their better chances arrived via long balls towards Neymar, while Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez ought to have put the visitors in front on 14 minutes.
Neymar laid Gerard Pique’s pass from the back into the path of the Uruguayan, but he fired straight at Alves with just the Brazilian goalkeeper to beat....