Madrid – by Kieran CANNING (AFP)
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique rejected suggestions his side had been fortunate to come away with all three points from Valencia after Sergio Busquets volleyed home the only goal of the game 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.
“I don’t feel like lady luck fell on our side because we scored a good goal and created it from a set-piece. It wasn’t luck, we had to dominate them and control their transitions, so I am very thankful to the players,” said Enrique.
“We had faith until the end at a very difficult place to come to and where no one had won before today.
“It’s true the goal came from a corner, but we had three efforts on goal in the same move to be able to win the game.
“The result will boost the team. Of course I am happy, but even more than the three points I am happy with how we played against a difficult opponent that pressurises you like very few others.”
The action on the field in La Liga was overshadowed on Sunday by the death of a Deportivo la Coruna fan who was pulled from a freezing river following violent clashes between rival supporters.
The 43-year-old man was rescued by firefighters from the Manzanares river near the Vicente Calderon stadium, where Deportivo went on to lose 2-0 to Atletico Madrid, but died of cardiac arrest shortly afterwards.
He also suffered head injuries and hypothermia.
And there were more unsavoury scenes at Mestalla as Lionel Messi received treatment after being hit on the head by a plastic bottle thrown from the crowd as Barca celebrated their winner.
Enrique insisted more can be done to prevent the actions of unruly fans inside the ground, but agreed with his Atletico counterpart Diego Simeone that the incidents like those in Madrid earlier in the day are a wider societal problem.
“What happens in the stadium can be controlled, although you can always have one undesirable,” he added.
“What happened around the Calderon doesn’t represent football. We need to eradicate violence from football and from society.”
Valencia boss Nuno Espiritu Santo, meanwhile, was left to lament the chances his side failed to convert in the second-half.
“We had good moments in the match and very clear opportunities to score. Barca also had chances to give them their due,” he said. “But we had such clear chances and could easily have won.”