Valverde pressure increases as Barcelona held in Valencia
This was the fourth league match in a row that Barcelona had failed to win, something that hadn't happened for over two years previously.
Barcelona got off to the worst possible start, when Ezequiel Garay scored for Valencia after just one minute of play.
Valencia swung in their very first corner of the match, and Gerard Pique horribly miscued his front-post header, letting the ball bounce behind him.
Garay had the simplest of tasks to poke the ball into an unguarded net, as keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and the rest of the Barcelona defense were caught out.
Valencia capitalised on their momentum, testing Ter Stegen twice in two minutes with shots from Michy Batshuayi and Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Barcelona had a brief penalty appeal in the 22nd minute, but a VAR review adjudged that Luis Suarez had gone down too softly, and ordered the referee to play on.
The Blaugrana weren’t ruing the decision for long, as just one minute later Lionel Messi put them level with a brilliant goal.
After a sharp one-two with Suarez on the edge of the area, Messi drilled a 25-yard strike into the bottom corner of Neto’s goal, giving the keeper no chance.
Barcelona quickly began to dominate the match, but they could not break the hard-working Valencia down before half-time.
It was actually the home team that came closest to scoring again before the interval.
Gaya collected the rebound from Denis Cheryshev’s blocked shot on the edge of the 18-yard-box, but he smashed a powerful drive slightly the wrong side of Ter Stegen’s goal.
Cheryshev almost stunned Barcelona at the beginning of the second half, sending an outrageous trivela attempt just wide of the top corner.
The second half was a more low-key affair than the first, as Barcelona continued to struggle against the organisation of Valencia for large stretches of the game.
Lionel Messi looked lively, but he couldn’t find the perfect final touch, struggling to link up effectively with his teammates.
The best chance for either side in the second half came when some smart link-up play between Messi and Suarez led to Philippe Coutinho being played in in the penalty area.
However, just as he was about to shoot and surely score, Gaya came rushing in with a brilliant tackle to deny Coutinho and Barcelona.
Valencia never really created a clear chance, but they defended superbly, and they would have taken huge pride in the performance.