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Jonas makes a late run into the box on the right hand side for Valencia before he is closed down by the excellent Alba who has had a great game against his former club. And that's the last of the action as the referee blows the final whistle. A fair result and a good effort by the home side against the brilliant Catalans with their amazing Argentine goal machine.
Canales gets clear of Puyol on the right and could shoot but instead elects to cross and there is no-one in the box to aim for.
As the clock ticks down the referee's assistant says there will be three minutes of added time.
Valdes gets a big double high five and chest bump from Puyol for keeping out Soldado.
A great chance for Soldado to win it. Cissokho robs Dani Alves and puts in a dangerous cross which deflects out to Soldado who hits it at Valdes and Barcelona have a lucky escape.
A final change for Valencia as Guardado departs and Brazilian attacker Jonas comes off the bench.
After a very busy January for Barcelona they finally have a week off after this game, with no midweek fixture before a home game in La Liga against Getafe next Sunday.
A good low cross from Alba is hit towards Xavi, who is beaten to the ball by Rami in the area. Solid defending.
Messi and Xavi combine well to feed Pedro on the right and he swivels inside his marker Cissokho before driving a low shot straight at Guaita.
A clever run into the box on the right hand side by Iniesta sees him get to the goal line but he is tackled by Ricardo Costa just before he can cross.
Ten minutes to go and Barcelona want to find that winning goal to put them 18 points ahead of Real Madrid and 14 in front of Atletico...
Had that been Messi or Pedro on the end of the cross it would surely have been a goal.
What a chance! Great full back play from Barcelona, Alba's excellent run down the right gives him a good chance to cross and his pass into the Valencia box is perfect, but Villa can't convert it with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Guardado gets a yellow card as he's all over Messi in midfield.
Xavi takes a free kick from the left and a long lofted cross eventually finds Puyol who can only play it back in to the Valencia goalkeeper.
A silly little foul by Soldado again who seems to love winding up the Barcelona players. This time it's a little tap kick on Pique who complains to the referee.
Fabregas leaves the field of play to be replaced by former local favourite Villa, who gets a warm welcome from the home fans.
Pablo Piatti comes on for Valencia, replacing Bernat.
A great save by Valdes that one a couple of minutes ago, the replays show us how well he reacted to that shot by Canales. Surely Barcelona can find a way to keep their goalkeeper who recently refused to extend his current contract.
An amusing banner at the side of the pitch from one of the spectators reads: 'Messi will you give me your shirt today? It's my birthday!'
A superb run by Guardado down the left plays in Canales and his shot across the goal is saved well by Valdes.
Former Real Madrid man Soldado would love to get on the scoresheet against Barcelona and he has just wasted another chance, put clear through on the right before clipping the ball over at the near post.
It looks like Soldado will get a chance on goal as he finds space in the area but Tino Costa heads the ball straight to Valdes instead of his teammate.
Sergio Canales enters the action as Banega goes off to applause from the Mestalla faithful.
Like Barcelona, Valencia also have Champions League football to look forward to in the coming weeks, as they face PSG in the last 16 on 12th February and 6th March.
Then Messi gets clear on the right and it looks certain to be a goal scoring opportunity for the visitors as the box is loaded. Messi could shoot or cross and opts for a cross but plays the ball to no-one at all and the danger is over for Valencia.
Messi has a chance to shoot from distance but it's not a vintage effort from the Argentine as he fires well over.
Tino Costa takes the resulting free kick and blasts a low shot through the wall, but Valdes is alert and gets down well to smother the ball.
Alba gets in a tangle with Juan Bernat and the ball pops up to hit the Barça man on the hand.
Carles Puyol comes on in place of Mascherano at the heart of the Barcelona defence.
Ten minutes into the second half and Barcelona should be ahead. Messi turns in the centre circle and plays an amazingly good pass into the path of the advancing Fabregas who beats his marker but hits the side netting...
Valencia president Manuel Llorente says Guaita will not be moving to Barcelona despite recent press speculation linking the goalkeeper with a move to the Camp Nou. ‘He’s a Valencia man and he will be here for a long time to come’, says Llorente – who incidentally sold David Villa and Jordi Alba to Barcelona.
Guaita has the ball in space at the back for Valencia and waves his team forward indicating that he is going to launch the ball forward. Which he then does to no-one at all and Barcelona have a throw in.
Danger man for Valencia Soldado finds space in the Barça penalty area and shoots just wide of the left hand post. That was very close and had Valdes beaten.
Messi is penalised for a foul on Victor Ruiz after the Valencia defender robs him of the ball at the end of a winding run and the Argentine pulls his marker back.
Valencia were involved in an exciting 3-2 comeback victory at Deportivo La Coruña last weekend which saw them take all three points courtesy of a last minute Ricardo Costa goal, after their hosts were reduced to nine men. The win took Valencia to within two points of fourth place in the table and they are looking to take another step forward in this second half against Barcelona.
Soldado gets a deserved yellow card for leaving his studs in on Busquets. That was a dirty foul.
The home side kick off the second half looking to build on a good performance in the opening period. But Barcelona soon have the ball back...
Only one minute of added time and the referee blows for half time. The half started slowly and warmed up towards the end with Valencia the better side and somewhat unfortunate not to be ahead at the break.
After a battle between Tino Costa and Iniesta is won by Costa in midfield Guardado gets a chance to shoot and his wicked dipping drive draws a good save from Valdes.
That remarkable man Mr Messi has now hit the back of the net in a record 12 successive La Liga encounters.
As Barcelona clear a Valencia corner the visitors go on a rapid counter attack but Pedro's pass to Messi slows the move down and then the Barça goalscorer runs into traffic in the home defence and the chance is gone.
That was a clear penalty, just inside the Valencia box in a central position, as João Pereira seemed to panic and dived in on Pedro to bring him down.
The last time Valencia managed a home win against Barcelona was March 2008, when they secured a 3-2 Copa del Rey victory over the Catalans. So it’s almost four years since a Barça defeat at the Mestalla, but the visitors have only won once in their last four visits to this ground. Is another draw on the cards? Cissokho has just been booked for repetitive fouling.
GOAL!!! Messi makes no mistake from the spot kick to equalise for Barcelona, smashing the ball home past a helpless Guaita.
Penalty to Barcelona as João Pereira brings down Pedro.
Goal scorer Banega was apparently late for training on Friday with Valencia according to the Spanish media but his manager kept faith in him and it has paid off so far this evening.
Soldado tries an overhead kick from close range but just can't get his shot on target. Valencia are well on top at the moment.
That goal came from slack Barcelona defending, Dani Alves was outnumbered on the right and a weak headed clearance by Pique gave Banega the chance to slot home.
GOAL!!! Banega picks up a loose ball in the Barça box after a series of crosses and half clearances and smashes a right footed half volley into the net at the near post.
Valencia seem to be targetting Dani Alves at right back, this time it's Cissokho making a good run up the left wing. Alves needs some protection and finally Busquets comes over to give him a hand.
Clever combination play by Banega and Guardado on the left for Valencia eventually comes to nothing as the former overhits a pass to the latter.
After nearly half an hour of play Valencia look the better side at the moment and Barcelona are not ticking over with their usual efficient brilliance.
After a couple of recent cup draws and their surprise defeat at Real Sociedad, Barcelona have achieved just two victories from their last five games in all competitions.
Another Banega corner for Valencia tempts Valdes to come out and punch it clear. He is fouled anyway by Cissokho.
From the resulting corner Ricardo Costa heads over.
Tino Costa's free kick hits Xavi in the Barça wall and it appears to be the Spain midfielder's elbow which deflected the ball away. Home fans hopefully appeal for a penalty again but the referee says no.
A great run through the defence by the skillful Soldado is ended by a clumsy lunge from Mascherano who gets a yellow card.
Valencia look far more focussed and determined in this first half so far than they did when Real Madrid came here two weeks ago and notched five goals before half time.
Fabregas is caught offside and then Barcelona attack again through Iniesta but Rami is equal to his opponent and clears the danger.
The home fans appeal for a penalty as Pedro blocks a shot but it's not clear whether it is a handball or not.
Soldado chases another through ball but Pique gets there first.
Ricardo Costa is actually ok despite that scare and has come back on. That's good to see as he fell awkwardly and it appeared he had twisted his knee badly.
Valencia’s recent record against the top sides in La Liga is not great and they have lost their last three matches against today’s opponents by a combined score of 8-1.
This looks nasty. Ricardo Costa has a problem with his right knee as he overstretched trying to intercept a Xavi through ball.
Xavi lofts a free kick into the Valencia box and Guaita punches it clear but has been fouled by Fabregas.
A soft foul on Leo Messi in midfield by Rami as the Barcelona star dances around with the ball in the centre circle. Free kick to Barcelona.
For Barcelona this is also an opportunity to increase their advantage over their great rivals Real Madrid in the Primera Division to 18 points, after a rare Cristiano Ronaldo own goal gave struggling Granada their first win over Real in 41 years on Saturday evening - as Jose Mourinho’s side crashed to a 1-0 defeat.
No rhythm to this match yet, fairly even stuff so far. But now Barcelona are trying to slow it down and keep the ball.
The corner is taken by Banega but goes behind for a goal kick for Barça.
Guardado, Pereira and Banega combine well in attack for Valencia and the home side win a corner off Pique.
Barcelona will be looking to build on their 11 point lead over second placed Atletico Madrid in the La Liga standings on this visit to Valencia. Atletico Madrid play at home later this evening to Real Betis.
João Pereira smashes into Sergio Busquets but there is no free kick and eventually Busquets is back on his feet.
A great cross from the corner by stand in captain Xavi is headed well wide by Pique who should have tested Vicente Guaita in the Valencia goal. That was a great chance.
Cesc Fabregas has a shot deflected wide and Barcelona have a corner.
Valencia have the ball in the early stages, playing it around at the back before Rami hammers a long ball forward looking for Soldado who is beaten to it by Victor Valdes.
There is a buzz around the Mestalla as the game commences and visitors Barcelona kick-off in their usual dark blue and red colours. Valencia are in their white shirts and black shorts.
Valencia are having an inconsistent season and although they have won four of their last five Liga matches their last home game in the league saw them concede five first half goals in a 5-0 defeat to Real Madrid.
Barça’s assistant boss Roura will be in charge of the team over the next two months, according to press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, who have stated that manager Tito Vilanova will remain in New York undergoing cancer treatment until the end of March. Roura would therefore oversee the return leg of the Spanish Cup semi-final clash with Real Madrid on 27th February and the forthcoming Champions League meetings with AC Milan on 20th February and 12th March.
Barcelona caretaker boss Jordi Roura of course has a wealth of talent to select from and has gone with a starting team which would certainly be called close to full strength. Gerard Pique comes back from suspension and Jordi Alba faces his former team, but David Villa is on the bench against his old club.
Valencia manager Ernesto Valverde selects a strong side as the club continue their quest for a Champions League spot. Sofiane Feghouli does not feature after returning to the squad from the African Cup of Nations, whilst Ever Banega is in the starting XI despite recent stories in the Spanish press questioning his professionalism.
Teams: VALENCIA: Guaita, Joao, Rami, Ricardo Costa, Cissokho, Victor Ruiz, Tino Costa, Bernat, Banega, Guardado, Soldado… subs: Diego Alves, Albelda, Jonas, Piatti, Barragan, Valdez, Canales. /// BARCELONA: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro… subs: Pinto, Adriano, Puyol, Song, Thiago, Alexis, Villa.
Good afternoon and welcome to LIVE coverage of this La Liga fixture between Valencia and FC Barcelona at the Mestalla.
|02/09/2012||FC Barcelona||1 - 0||Valencia CF|
|19/02/2012||FC Barcelona||5 - 1||Valencia CF|
|08/02/2012||FC Barcelona||2 - 0||Valencia CF|
|01/02/2012||Valencia CF||1 - 1||FC Barcelona|
|21/09/2011||Valencia CF||2 - 2||FC Barcelona|
|Valencia CF||3 - 2||Deportivo La Coruña|
|Valencia CF||1 - 1||Real Madrid|
|Real Madrid||5 - 0||Valencia CF|
|Real Madrid||2 - 0||Valencia CF|
|Valencia CF||2 - 0||Sevilla FC|
|Real Madrid||1 - 1||FC Barcelona|
|FC Barcelona||5 - 1||Osasuna|
|FC Barcelona||4 - 2||Málaga CF|
|Real Sociedad||3 - 2||FC Barcelona|
|FC Barcelona||2 - 2||Málaga CF|
|17.||Celta de Vigo||37||38||-15|
|19.||Deportivo La Coruña||35||38||-23|