SHARE
COPY LINK

FOOTBALL

VIDEO: Barcelona shake off ref’s goal-line blunder to share spoils in Valencia

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised his side's temperament to bounce back from being denied a clear opening goal scored by Lionel Messi and falling behind to salvage a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Sunday.

VIDEO: Barcelona shake off ref's goal-line blunder to share spoils in Valencia
Lionel Messi controls the ball in front of Valencia's Spanish defender Jose Luis Gaya Pena and Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista. Photo: AFP

A point maintains Barca's four-point lead over Valencia at the top of La Liga, but the Catalans were forced to do it the hard way after Messi's 30th minute strike that slipped through Valencia 'keeper Neto's legs was somehow not seen to have crossed the line by the officials.

Unlike in Europe's other top leagues, La Liga has so far refused to introduce goal line technology due to cost concerns.

“Messi's goal was very clear,” said Valverde. “The important thing is to not let the tension of the game overcome you and we didn't lose our concentration against a very strong opponent.”

“It was a good game, a little marred by one controversial moment.”

“We know the potential Valencia have at home and although we don't go away completely satisfied, we managed to take something positive from the game.”

After a first-half performance well below the form they have shown so far this season, Valencia improved markedly after half-time and went in front when Rodrigo tapped home from close range.

However, Barca responded to protect their unbeaten record in La Liga this season when Messi's splendid pass was volleyed home by former Valencia left-back Jordi Alba eight minutes from time.

“It was a monumental error by the referee,” blasted Alba to Movistar.

“Even I could see it was in from the middle of the pitch. We saw the replay at half-time and it's clear.”

La Liga intends to introduce video assistant refereeing (VAR) for controversial decisions next season.

However, Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets believes that is too late for a league that likes to market itself as the best in the world thanks to the presence of Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

“La Liga has the best players in the world and the best league also deserves the best technology,” said Busquets.

A share of the spoils allows Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to close back to within eight points of Barca at the top of the table.

Yet, Alba believes Valencia's stunning start to the season means they deserve to be treated as title contenders.

“I played here for many years and it is always difficult to win here,” added the Spanish international.

“They are clear candidates. There is a long way to go, but they are well organised and know what they want to do.”

Valencia boss Marcelino Garcia Toral, who has rejuvenated Los Che after two seasons in the doldrums, was forced to watch from the stands as he served a touchline ban.

Assistant coach Ruben Uria admitted the hosts had been handed a huge slice of luck and also backed the introduction of technology as soon as possible.

“It is a shame that these situations still arise.”

“We are in favour of technology and this time it has fallen in our favour.”

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

SHOW COMMENTS