Classy Barcelona coach Valverde: Alaves can feel unlucky; Coutinho will improve

Classy Barcelona coach Valverde: Alaves can feel unlucky; Coutinho will improve

Classy Barcelona coach Valverde: Alaves can feel unlucky; Coutinho will improve

Alaves gave Barcelona all they could handle but a late victor from Leo Messi meant that Catalans have again bagged three points from the match.

Messi whipped home a lovely free-kick six minutes from the end to down resilient Alaves, who are just two points from the drop zone in 17th despite John Guidetti silencing the Camp Nou with a shock breakaway opener in the 23rd minute.

As Barcelona's forwards failed to fire, Alaves threatened so often on the counter-attack and it was no surprise that their goal came from such a move in the 23rd minute.

"Apart from cutting off his hand, we couldn't do anything", he said, having seen Messi's stunning free-kick seal maximum points six minutes from time.

Alongside Lionel Messi and former Reds teammate Luis Suarez, Coutinho would have hoped for an easy ride against the side sitting 17 in the league.

Alaves fought admirably for the entire 90 minutes, with Guidetti and Ibai Gomez particularly impressive, but unfortunately for them it was not to be, as Barcelona had just too much class in the end. Lionel Messi thought he'd scored the equaliser from a free-kick but the Alaves keeper, Fernando Pacheco, turned the ball on to the post.

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Alaves saw late penalty appeals against Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti rejected and protested to the officials after full-time, although Valverde was quick to dismiss their complaints. Sometimes the ball goes in and they don't give it, other times this can happen.

"They complained a lot about it. Umtiti told me it was not deliberate".

Earlier, Atletico Madrid eased past Las Palmas to strengthen their grip on second place.

Barcelona have eight games in February - including a Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia and a Champions League meeting with Chelsea - so will be thankful that the referee didn't spot Suarez's moment of madness.

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