Barcelona kept the pressure on Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga by beating 10-man Valencia 4-2 at Camp Nou ahead of the international break.
The Catalans were playing their first home game since the thrilling 6-1 comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League but their performance evoked only a little of the magic of that night.
Valencia exposed their hosts’ defensive frailties throughout the first half and Eliaquim Mangala gave Voro Gonzalez’s side the lead after 29 minutes.
Fortunately for Barca, their superstar front three were on form and Neymar teed up Luis Suarez to equalise shortly before Mangala conceded a penalty and was sent off, Lionel Messi duly scoring from the spot.
Although Munir El Haddadi drew Valencia level almost immediately against his parent club, the 10 men struggled to contain Messi, who made it 3-2 after 52 minutes but will miss the trip to Granada in the first game back from the international break due to suspension after picking up a late yellow card.
The hosts pressed hard in search of a fourth throughout the closing stages, Neymar’s dynamic solo run down the left flank leading to Andre Gomes’ 90th-minute settler from close range, as Barca claimed a win that is vital to their title chances, moving them back to within two points of Madrid, who still hold a game in hand over the reigning champions.
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