Valladolid 0-1 Barcelona: Arturo Vidal seals vital victory for Barcelona as Quique Setien beat Valladolid to secure victory.
Valladolid 0-1 Barcelona: SE’s first-half strike narrows the gap to one point and ensures Real Madrid can’t clinch the La Liga title.
Arturo Vidal scored the only goal of the game and Lionel Messi racked up his 20th assist in LaLiga this season to give tired Barcelona a 1-0 win away at Valladolid and keep the Catalans’ slim title hopes intact.
Coach Quique Setien surprisingly left Luis Suarez on the bench as Antoine Griezmann started in attack alongside Messi at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla.
Sergi Roberto was deployed as a third center-back and helped Barca to bring the ball out from the back as Setien’s side dominated in the early stages.
And after Riqui Puig had seen a shot saved by Jordi Masip, Vidal gave Barca the lead after 15 minutes.
Messi won the ball back just outside the area and clipped a low pass through to the Chilean, who turned and hit a shot in off the post from just inside the right of the area.
It was Messi’s 20th assist in LaLiga this term and Barca looked good for their lead at that stage. Setien’s side could have added to the goal as Puig looked to set up Griezmann, but Masip was quick to get down and make a vital intervention.
Griezmann also completely miskicked when all alone as a ball came through to him on his right foot at the back of the area.
But Valladolid improved after instructions from their coach Sergio Gonzalez in the drinks break and missed a wonderful chance to equalize when Kike Perez got between Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet but lost his footing just as he was taking his shot, allowing Marc-Andre ter Stegen to collect the ball.
Setien sent on Suarez for Griezmann at the break, while Enes Unal came on for Valladolid and the home side caused problems for Barca in the early minutes of the second half.
Ter Stegen got down well to save a header from the Turkish forward and also denied the same player in a similar action later on.
Messi came close with a free-kick, but Barcelona created little in the second half as Setien made several changes.
And the Catalans had Ter Stegen to thank as the German-made a couple of important saves in added time, with Valladolid pushing for a late leveler.
Barcelona moves back to within a point of Madrid, in action at Granada on Monday, and this win keeps them in the race until the last two rounds of the competition.
Valladolid’s loss means they are not safe just yet, but Sergio’s side is seven clear of the drop zone and should stay up.