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'Ghost goal' haunts Barca

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-28 07:24

'Ghost goal' haunts Barca

Jordi Alba reacts after scoring Barcelona's equalizer in its 1-1 draw at Valencia on Sunday. The result left Barca four points clear at the top of La Liga.Alberto Saiz / AP

But hard-earned point consoles coach Valverde

VALENCIA, Spain - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised his side's temperament after Lionel Messi was denied a clear goal in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Valencia.

The result maintained Barca's four-point lead over Valencia at the top of La Liga, but the Catalans had to overcome a galling first-half error by the officials.

Messi's 30th-minute strike slipped through Valencia goalkeeper Neto's legs and a yard over the line. Neto scooped the ball back into play but, despite Barca protests, no goal was awarded.

Unlike in Europe's other top leagues, La Liga has stalled on introducing 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 has 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 its usual high levels this season, Valencia improved markedly after the break and went in front when Rodrigo tapped home from close range.

However, Barca responded to protect its unbeaten league record when Messi's splendid pass was volleyed home by former Valencia leftback Jordi Alba eight minutes from time.

"It was a monumental error by the referee," a fuming Alba told Movistar.

"Even I could see it was in from the middle of the pitch. We saw the replay at halftime and it's clear."

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

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets believes that's 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 allowed the Madrid clubs, Real and Atletico, to close to within eight points of Barca at the summit.

Alba is just as concerned with Valencia, and is not expecting its surprise title challenge to wane any time soon.

"I played here for many years and it is always difficult to win here," said the Spain international.

"They are clear candidates. There is a long way to go, but they are well organized 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 said the host was handed a huge slice of luck. He also backed the introduction of the VAR technology as soon as possible.

"It is a shame that these situations still arise," said Uria.

"We are in favor of technology and this time it has fallen in our favor."

Agence France - presse

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