Barcelona broke La Liga’s all-time unbeaten record with a 2-1 win over Valencia at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
La Liga leaders Barca, who are now 39 games without defeat in the league, broke Real Sociedad’s 38-year record thanks to a goal in either half from Luis Suarez and Samuel Umtiti.
Valencia had their fair share of chances in the first half, but Barcelona took the lead on 15 minutes as Suarez tucked home a fine through ball from man-of-the-match Philippe Coutinho.
It was 2-0 on 51 minutes through defender Umtiti, who headed home at the near post from Coutinho’s corner, a moment after Rodrigo had nearly grabbed an equaliser for the visitors. Dani Parejo made for a nervy finish with a penalty which squirmed under Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but Barca held on.
The result means Barcelona, who crashed out of the Champions League in dramatic fashion at Roma in midweek, are 14 points above second-place Atletico Madrid, who host Levante tomorrow. Valencia are third, three points behind Atletico but firmly nestled in the Champions League spot.
Valencia started well as Goncalo Guedes forced a good save out of Ter Stegen, but Barcelona took the lead as Coutinho’s inch-perfect through ball was converted first time by Suarez six yards out.
Guedes had several opportunities to level after the opener; first his long-range shot was held well by Ter Stegen, before his shot from 12 yards was deflected inches wide by Jordi Alba.
In a free-flowing game full of chances, Rodrigo should have had Valencia level before the break, but Ter Stegen again tipped his half-volley onto the post with a world-class stop after his own lazy pass out of defence.
Rodrigo missed another fine opportunity after the break, but saw his low striker under Ter Stegen cleared off the line by Gerard Pique after Umtiti had been sloppy in possession.
Barca made Valencia pay a moment later, however, as Umiti rose highest from a Coutinho corner to head in at the near post past the grasp of Neto. The defender, who has been linked with Manchester Untied and criticised for his recent performances, looked for the nearest camera to point in having seemingly proved a point to his doubters.
Lionel Messi had a quiet game, but nearly grabbed a third as his volley from 20 yards flew just wide of Neto’s goal, but Valencia were allowed back into the game late on as substitute Ousmane Dembele fouled Gaya in the box. Parejo stepped up, Ter Stegen guessed the right way, but it squirmed under his body.
Denis Suarez should have made it 3-1 in injury time, only for Neto’s save from point-blank range, but Barca held on after some late Valencia pressure.