Valencia 0-1 Barcelona: Robert Lewandowski nets a last-gasp winner

Robert Lewandowski of FC Barcelona in action during the LaLiga Santander match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on October 29, 2022 in Valencia, Spain.

Barcelona, bruised after Champions League elimination in midweek, snatched a late 1-0 victory at Valencia on Saturday in La Liga, with Robert Lewandowski stretching to convert a 93rd minute winner.

The Polish forward managed to divert Raphinha’s cross home at the death to pull Barcelona level on 31 points with Real Madrid at the top of the table, before the champions host Girona on Sunday.

It was a hard-fought win — the Catalans lost centre-backs Jules Kounde and Eric Garcia to injury, and they will be worries for their national teams, France and Spain respectively, ahead of the Qatar World Cup which starts in under three weeks.

Valencia saw Uruguayan Edinson Cavani go off injured with an ankle problem too, with the game billed as a shoot-out between him and fellow veteran marksman Lewandowski, who came out on top with his late goal.

“It was not brilliant football, today we were not inspired,” said Xavi.

“The anxiety of this week weighed on us, Valencia defended very well. These are three vital points.

“I am happy for the win, it was deserved, and each victory is celebrated, and when you don’t win, the alarms sound, it’s normal, this is a big club.”

Gennaro Gattuso said he and Barcelona counterpart Xavi Hernandez played almost different sports in their playing days, but their teams were evenly matched at a feisty Mestalla.

The visitors had the upper hand from the start, although Valencia’s tricky forward line caused them concern at the back, with Samuel Lino and Justin Kluivert particularly hard to handle.

Ansu Fati should have opened the scoring when set up by a perfectly timed Pedri pass, but onrushing Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili saved the forward’s attempted dink with his face.

Frenkie de Jong hammered an effort wide from distance, while Fati, on a rare start, could not direct a header from Ousmane Dembele’s cross low enough to cause problems.

Valencia thought they had broken the deadlock early in the second half when Lino slid home but Marcos Andre hand handled a cross into his path and the goal was disallowed.

Barcelona could have won the match with five minutes remaining but substitute Torres fluffed his lines in front of goal, kicking the ball against his other leg when he only had the goalkeeper to beat.

Luckily for him, master finisher Lewandowski spared his blushes with a goal when Barcelona needed it most.

“When you play teams like Barcelona you can’t make any mistakes,” Gattuso told DAZN.

“We have to continue, we have to look at our mentality, but the team is alive. We have to speak little and work a lot.”

Valencia have won just one of their last six matches and are 10th in La Liga.

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