Marcelino hails Lionel Messi

Valencia manager Marcelino has hailed the game-changing abilities of Lionel Messi during his side’s 2-2 draw against Barcelona on Sunday. The Mestalla outfit appeared primed for a shock win after taking a 2-0 lead within the 32nd minute but they were thereafter pegged back with Lionel Messi scoring a goal in either half to level the proceedings.

Following the game, Marcelino admitted that he is disappointed after witnessing his team drop points despite holding a 2-0 advantage at one stage. He added that Los Che could have sealed the win with a third goal but the ‘extraordinary’ Messi was on hand to deny them a victory which could have enhanced their top four prospects.

He said: “Whenever you are winning 2-0 and then draw you can be somewhat disappointed, but to win here you have to play spectacularly and we did do that but just didn’t have the luck. We were very close to winning and went from almost going 3-1 up to the score being 2-2 in the space of a minute. There was just one moment with Messi when I didn’t suffer and that was when he was on the sidelines! He is so decisive and shapes the whole team, he’s an extraordinary footballer.”

Valencia have played out a large section of draws during the ongoing campaign and the result against Barcelona was the 12th occasion from 22 league games where they had shared the spoils. Despite this, they have remained within contention for the top four and they are currently within six points off six-placed Sevilla with 16 games left to play.

Meanwhile, Barcelona still managed to extend the lead at the top of the table to six points after Atletico Madrid squandered the opportunity at Real Betis where they were beaten 1-0. Next up, the Blaugrana face an El Clasico versus Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey and they may have to play without Messi, who is struggling with a minor groin problem.