Barca win but lose Ini­esta with se­ri­ous in­jury

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

An­dres Ini­esta's se­ri­ous knee in­jury over­shad­owed another stel­lar per­for­mance by Lionel Messi yes­ter­day, when the Barcelona for­ward scored a sec­ond goal in stop­page time to earn a 3-2 win at Va­len­cia.

The hotly con­tested game was marred both by Enzo Perez's tackle that sent Ini­esta off on a stretcher and a fan throw­ing a wa­ter bot­tle at Barcelona's play­ers while they cel­e­brated Messi's win­ner. The bot­tle ap­peared to strike Ney­mar's head and also im­pact other Barcelona play­ers when it was tossed into their tight hud­dle.

The de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons rose to the top of the Span­ish league. Barcelona is one point ahead of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid be­fore they play their matches to­day.

The vic­tory, how­ever, came at a high price: An in­jury to Barcelona's cap­tain and key play­maker.

Ini­esta clutched his right knee and called out for help from the team doc­tors when he was cut down by Perez in the 12th minute.

"The worst news is Ini­esta's in­jury," Barcelona coach Luis En­rique said. "But the team showed the de­sire it has. How we won says a lot about the spirit and char­ac­ter of this team."

Ini­esta's knee ap­peared to buckle when he was hit by Perez's ag­gres­sive tackle. He was clearly in pain and held a hand over his face when he was put on the stretcher and car­ried off. Ivan Rakitic re­placed him.

The club is­sued a med­i­cal re­port say­ing Ini­esta had in­jured a lig­a­ment and part of his right knee. The 32-year-old World Cup win­ner will un­dergo fur­ther tests when he re­turns to Barcelona.

"We will miss him a lot and hope he is back with us as soon as pos­si­ble," Barcelona's Ser­gio Bus­quets said. "It was a very hard and phys­i­cal match."

Messi opened the scor­ing and had the last word of the wild match when he beat Diego Alves with a well-taken penalty kick that slid just be­tween the div­ing goal­keeper and the post.

Messi ri­fled in his first goal from the edge of the area.

Va­len­cia ral­lied to take the lead on goals by Mu­nir El Had­dadi, who is on loan from Barcelona, and Ro­drigo Moreno early in the sec­ond half be­fore Luis Suarez scored to make it 2-2 in the 62nd.

Messi then snatched the win from the penalty spot with 90 min­utes com­plete af­ter he passed the ball to Suarez, who was fouled by Ay­men Ab­den­nour in the box.

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