Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 October 2020

Quique Setien suffers first La Liga defeat as Barcelona manager after Valencia triumph

Gomez's strike and an Alba own goal handed Barca their fourth league defeat of the campaign

Valencia's Maxi Gomez, left, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal in front of Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong. AP Photo
Valencia's Maxi Gomez, left, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal in front of Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong. AP Photo

Quique Setien suffered his first defeat as Barcelona manager in just his second La Liga game in charge as Valencia claimed a 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Maxi Gomez's strike and a Jordi Alba own goal at Mestalla handed Barca their fourth league defeat of the campaign and a first home win for Valencia against the champions since 2007.

Real Madrid will the chance to move three points clear of Barca at the top of the table when they visit Real Valladolid on Sunday.

"The reality is that we did not play well at all, especially in the first half," said Setien, who was appointed Barca coach earlier this month after Ernesto Valverde was sacked despite winning consecutive league titles with the club.

"We couldn't get near their goal and at certain moments we did not understand each other well and Valencia made the most of our mistakes. We made a lot of passes for the sake of making them and were not capable of causing any damage."

Valencia climb to fifth and continue to improve under Albert Celades. This success came without their captain Dani Parejo and, largely, without star striker Rodrigo Moreno.

The hosts hardly touched the ball for the first six minutes, their fans whistling as they urged a more aggressive approach. But the plan was to sit and absorb and it worked, with Barcelona unable to cut through or create a single clear chance.

However, with their first attack Valencia won a penalty as Jose Gaya slipped past Gerard Pique and would surely have scored from eight yards before being brought down.

Pique was booked and, with Parejo absent, Gomez stepped up, only for his driven shot to be well saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, albeit with the help of half a yard's headstart off his line.

Barca were riding their luck. Sergi Roberto's header cannoned off Pique but fell just close enough for Ter Stegen, who parried a Gomez shot onto the crossbar and almost spilled another to Kevin Gameiro.

Referee Gil Manzano puts his hands together as if to apologise after failing to play advantage when Ferran Torres was clear but the frustration of Valencia's fans turned to ecstasy shortly after half-time.

Pique's flicked header landed at the feet of Gomez, whose driven effort took a cruel deflection off Alba and flew in.

Barcelona began exerting some pressure and Lionel Messi led the way, hauled to the ground by Francis Coquelin and then denied by a brilliant Gabriel tackle.

Yet just as a Barcelona equaliser began to feel inevitable, Valencia struck again. A quick throw caught Alba out of position and Torres did well to cut inside and switch to Gomez. He took a touch and curled into the corner.

"We deserved this victory after the two bad results we had. This team has real fight and spirit," said goalscorer Gomez.

Updated: January 25, 2020 10:04 PM

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