Messi, Suarez score as Barcelona beats Valencia 2-0Barcelona, Spain: Lionel Messi set up Luis Suarez's first-minute opener before adding a goal of his own in stoppage time to give Spanish league leader Barcelona a hard-fought 2-0 win over Valencia on Saturday.Suarez netted
Barcelona, Spain: Lionel Messi set up Luis Suarez's first-minute opener before adding a goal of his own in stoppage time to give Spanish league leader Barcelona a hard-fought 2-0 win over Valencia on Saturday.
Suarez netted his 12th goal in his last 12 appearances to give Barcelona the lead 55 seconds into the match at Camp Nou.
But Valencia dominated the rest of the first half and the hosts needed goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to save Dani Parejo's penalty in the 10th minute.
Valencia striker Paco Alcacer went close several times before Barcelona settled down after halftime, and Messi netted his 35th league goal of the season right before the final whistle.
The victory lifted Barcelona a provisional five points clear before second-place Real Madrid hosts Malaga later.
Barcelona next turns to its home match against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, when it will aim to protect a 3-1 lead in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
Valencia's first loss in 11 games left it in fourth place.
Barcelona had a perfect start when Suarez used one touch to drive Messi's pass under goalkeeper Diego Alves and finish off a counterattack started by Sergio Busquets.
But Valencia's complete control of the rest of the first half led to the rare sight of Barcelona without the ball — and seemingly at a loss as to how it could recover it in front of unamused fans.
Valencia's pressure produced a series of poor passes from Barcelona's players— Gerard Pique was particularly careless— as Nuno Espirito Santo's side besieged Bravo's goal.
The visitors' best hope of equalizing came after Pique fouled Rodrigo Moreno while disputing a throw-in just inside the box.
Bravo smothered Parejo's spot kick, but Valencia kept threatening a goal through Alcacer.
The striker redirected a pass by the post, forced Javier Mascherano to block his shot, and sent a low strike off the upright before the 34th minute.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique shook his team up for the start of the second half, sending on midfielder Ivan Rakitic for left back Adriano and shifting Mascherano back into defense.
Barcelona improved with Rakitic, and Messi almost scored in the 64th when he curled a free kick off the corner of the goalframe.
But Valencia remained dangerous and Bravo had to parry Moreno's shot in the 75th.
Messi only got his goal with Valencia's entire team except its goalkeeper going forward in hope of a last-gasp equalizer. That left Messi all alone to beat Diego Alves after he had saved Messi's initial chip shot.
Messi moved three goals from Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo's competition-leading tally of 38.
Also later, third-place Atletico Madrid visits Deportivo La Coruna while Athletic Bilbao welcomes Getafe.