La Liga: Barcelona 2 Real Valladolid 1
By Football News
Barcelona remained on track to match Real Madrid's record tally of 100 points in La Liga with a narrow win over Real Valladolid on Sunday.
The newly-crowned champions dominated proceedings and a strike from Pedro as well as a Marc Valiente own-goal were enough to see off the visitors, despite Victor Perez’s late penalty for Valladolid.
Barcelona were missing Lionel Messi, who aggravated a hamstring injury in the victory at Atletico Madrid last weekend and is expected to miss the remainder of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Valladolid defender Antonio Rukavina was suspended after being shown his fifth booking of the season in the 1-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna last Saturday.
The visitors formed a guard of honour for the newly-crowned champions at Camp Nou, which was not at full capacity due to severe weather warnings in the city of Barcelona.
Gerard Pique made a bright start to the match and denied Omar Ramos with two strong blocks before floating a fantastic pass over the top of the Valladolid defence for David Villa, who was foiled by Carlos Pena.
Barcelona were in a celebratory mood and it did not take long for them to find their rhythm, with Pedro opening the scoring in the 21st minute.
Xavi stole possession in a dangerous area and slipped a pass into the path of the Spanish winger, who squeezed his strike underneath the goalkeeper from the right-hand side of the box.
Jordi Alba whipped a great cross towards Pedro at the far post as the hosts went in search of an immediate second goal, but Pena was on hand to produce a vital clearance.
The champions continued to pile on the pressure and Andres Iniesta saw an effort deflected just over the crossbar, after weaving his way into the Valladolid box.
Barcelona eventually found the net for a second time just before half-time when a whipped corner from Xavi bounced straight off former Barcelona defender Valiente and into the net.
The second half started in similar fashion as the first, as the torrential rain continued to pour down and Barcelona controlled proceedings.
Xavi went close with a side-footed effort from the edge of the area but Jaime managed to get down well to palm the ball away from the bottom corner.
The champions dominated possession throughout the second half and had a great chance to grab a third in the 63rd minute, following some good work down the left by Cesc Fabregas.
Pedro did well to shift the ball onto his right foot in front of goal but the 25-year-old blasted over the crossbar from 12 yards out when he looked certain to score.
Fabregas went close to finding the top corner, before Valladolid goalkeeper Jaime made two great saves to deny Barca a third in the closing stages.
He palmed away a curling Martin Montoya strike from inside the area before denying Villa with a wonderful stop to his left.
The rebound fell straight to Pedro and the midfielder had the simple task of finishing into an empty net, but he somehow hit the side-netting.
Valladolid were awarded a penalty against the run of play two minutes from time, after Javier Mascherano brought down Manucho.
Perez gave Victor Valdes no chance with the spot-kick as he drilled the ball high into the top corner.
However, the goal did not matter as the home side saw out the final few minutes to keep their record bid on track.