Barcelona 3-1 Valencia: Hosts return to winning ways with Ansu Fati, Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho all scoring… before Sergio Aguero makes official club debut as late substitute
- Jose Gaya gave the visitors the lead with a stunning strike on the half volley
- But Ansu Fati equalised superbly following a lay off from Memphis Depay
- The Dutchman then scored a penalty after Fati was fouled by Gaya in the box
- Philippe Coutinho added a late third before Sergio Aguero came on for his debut
It’s easy to see why Barcelona want to renew Ansu Fati with a one billion euros release clause.
He was worth his weight in goals against Valencia with a dynamic display that drove the team to a 3-1 victory.
Former Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu admitted last week that the club rejected a 150m euros offer from the Premier League club for Fati in 2020.
Barcelona returned to winning ways after Memphis Depay scored in a win against Valencia
The victory was just the Catalan giants’ second in their last five league games this season
Valencia left-back Jose Gaya (R) gave the visitors the lead with a stunning long-range strike
Barcelona (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Roberto (Mingueza 71), Pique, Garcia, Alba; F. de Jong, Busquets, Gavi (Nico 71); Dest (Aguero 87), Depay, Fati (Coutinho 59)
Subs not used: Puig, Demir, Neto, Lenglet, L. de Jong, Umtiti, Pena, Balde
Goals: Fati 13, Depay pen 41, Coutinho 85
Bookings: Gavi, Busquets
Valencia (4-1-4-1): Cillessen; Foulquier (Musah 75), Gabriel, Diakhaby, Gaya; Guillamon (Costa 86); Duro (Andre 60), Soler, Wass, Guedes (Cheryshev 75); M. Gomez (Vallejo 86)
Subs not used: Domenech, Racic, Jason, Mamardashvili, Vazquez, Mosquera
Goal: Gaya 5
Bookings: Gaya, Foulquier, M. Gomez
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
His current deal runs out next year and there is a difference of opinion between his agent Jorge Mendes and the club as to whether that includes an automatic renewal to 2024.
He must stay. It was tough losing Lionel Messi towards the end of his career. Losing the 18-year-old at the start of his would be just as hard to take.
Things had started badly for Barcelona with Jose Gaya making the most of space granted him on the edge of the area to shoot from long range past Marc Andre ter Stegen on five minutes.
But the response was swift and ruthless. Lionel Messi used to do it from the left. Ansu does it from the right.
Drifting in from that flank he played the ball off of Memphis Depay before bending a right-foot curling shot past Jasper Cillessen to equalize on 13 minutes.
Gaya and Ansu were at the centre of things again five minutes before half time when Barcelona took the lead.
The Valencia full-back nicked the ball from the Barcelona forward as he was about to turn it past Cillessen from the edge of the six-yard box from Sergio Roberto’s cross.
But with his follow through Gaya brought Fati down and that was enough to persuade referee Jesus Gil to point to the spot.
With no run-up Memphis rifled the penalty high into the top corner to make it 2-1.
Having made one and scored one in the first half Ansu shot just wide at the restart as Barcelona tried to open up their advantage.
They had the Camp Nou behind them. It was half full despite restrictions on attendance lifted but the 47,000 there witnessed a young team playing with belief and confidence.
Gaya cut across the ball after a corner was cleared and Marc-Andre ter Stegen could do little
But Ansu Fati sumptuously restored parity with a curler after a Memphis Depay lay off
He received the ball following a one-two from Depay before curling home first time
Valencia were still in it though and Gonzalo Guedes’ thunderbolt required a very strong arm from Ter Stegen to block.
On the hour Fati was replaced by Philippe Coutinho. The applause was huge for a player who Barcelona can afford neither to sell nor overload with minutes after he spent almost a year out injured.
Barcelona were living a little more dangerously and Gerard Pique needed all his experience to be in the right place at the right time to clear from the penalty area after Ter Stegen had pushed away Soler’s cross.
Barcelona then had the chance to take the lead from the spot after Fati was fouled by Gaya
And Depay made no mistake from the spot, powering home the penalty past Jasper Cillessen
But Barcelona were still threatening too. Coutinho curled a shot goalwards and it was blocked for a corner. He went one better with five minutes left all alone in the area and picked out by the excellent Sergino Dest, who had excelled playing wide right in Barcelona’s 4-3-3, he scored his first for almost a year.
All that was missing was the introduction of Sergio Aguero and he came on with four minutes left to a huge ovation.
The Camp Nou wanted a debut goal for him and there were cries of Kun whenever a Barcelona player attacked with Aguero in space for a pass. His goal didn’t come but with Barça playing this way it will not be long in coming.
They are making chances and taking them. They are now just two points behind Real Madrid and Ronald Koeman won’t need telling what that means: win next week’s Clasico and they are above them in the table.
Substitute Philippe Coutinho then added a third late on with a close-range finish
Sergio Aguero was then introduced as a late substitute, replacing Sergino Dest for his debut