Barcelona held to 1-1 draw after late goal by Valencia

Reuters , Saturday 5 Dec 2015

Valencia 1-1 Barcelona
Valencia's forward Santi Mina (L) celebrates his goal with Valencia's forward Paco Alcacer (2nd L) as they walk past Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta (R) during the Spanish league football match Valencia CF vs FC Barcelona at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on December 5, 2015 (Photo: AFP)

Valencia struck late to salvage a 1-1 draw at home to leaders Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga on Saturday. 

Real Madrid's dominant performance at the Bernabeu lifted them above Atletico Madrid into second for a couple of hours after beating Getafe 4-1 but Atletico responded with a 2-0 win at Granada before Santi Mina's late strike rescued a point for Valencia with new coach Gary Neville watching from the stands.

Neville, who was appointed last week but will not officially take over until Sunday, saw plenty to impress as the home side recovered from falling behind to Luis Suarez's 59th minute goal to stun the Spanish and European champions.

With 14 matches played, Barca lead on 34 points, two ahead of Atletico, with Real a further two points adrift in third.

Barca wasted a host of chances in the first half at Valencia, who were severely depleted by injuries and suspensions and are mired in mid table after an erratic season that prompted Monday's sacking of coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

Suarez finally found the net when he raced onto a Lionel Messi pass and cracked the ball past goalkeeper Jaume Domenech from a tight angle.

It was the Uruguay striker's eighth consecutive game on the scoresheet, during which he has rattled in 12 goals.

Valencia had barely troubled Barca keeper Claudio Bravo until Paco Alcacer fed Mina four minutes from time and he cracked a superb shot into the top corner to bring the home fans to their feet.

"We dominated the game but if you don't take your chances you can get punished," Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets told Spanish television. "It's not a step back as we are still top and doing things very well."

It was a morale-boosting success for Valencia ahead of their Champions League game at home to Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday, Neville's first game in charge, when they must win to keep alive their chances of advancing to the last 16.

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