Sunday 22 January 2017

Gary Neville looks on as Valencia hold Barcelona

Valencia 1 Barcelona 1

Published 05/12/2015 | 21:50

Valencia's head coach Gary Neville, center, in the stands
Valencia's head coach Gary Neville, center, in the stands

Gary Neville watched from the stands as Valencia survived a Barcelona onslaught to claim a 1-1 draw.

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Luis Suarez thought he had given the leaders three points when he struck just before the hour mark, but Santiago Mina grabbed a shock equaliser five minutes from time.

Former Manchester United and England defender Neville officially takes over at the Mestalla next week, with caretaker Salvador Voro in charge against Barca alongside Phil Neville.

His new side somehow came through a one-sided first half all-square, and after Suarez - formerly of United's great rivals Liverpool - finally found a way through they managed to hit back for a point.

Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring against Valencia
Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring against Valencia

Neymar set the tone for Barca in the opening moments when broke clear down the left and crossed for Lionel Messi, who sent his volley wide.

That was to become a feature of the first half with Neymar tying Valencia right-back Ruben Vezo in knots.

The Brazilian hoodwinked Vezo on the byline before cutting the ball back for Messi, who this time poked it straight at home keeper Jaume.

Valencia did mount the occasional attack, though, and they felt they should have been awarded a penalty after half an hour when Gerard Pique pulled back Enzo Perez.

They were breathing a sigh of relief at the other end moments later, however, when Suarez volleyed wide from another Neymar cross.

Messi then played in Suarez, but the Uruguayan opted to cross towards Neymar at the far post rather than shoot, and the ball floated over his team-mate's head.

Valencia's players celebrate a goal against Barcelona. REUTERS/Heino Kalis
Valencia's players celebrate a goal against Barcelona. REUTERS/Heino Kalis

Barca were frustrated once more just before half-time when Aderlan Santos got a vital touch on Jordi Alba's low cross with Suarez lurking at the far post for a tap-in.

But the visitors finally made the breakthrough in the 59th minute when Suarez chased Messi's ball over the top.

The striker held off the challenge of Valencia centre-half Aymen Abdennour before crashing his shot inside Jaume's near post.

Neymar almost grabbed a memorable second with 15 minutes left after a powerful run into the area but his shot flew inches wide.

Instead Valencia, with only their second shot on target, grabbed an equaliser when Mina tucked away Paco Alcacer's pass to snatch an unlikely point.

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