Messi scores 400th goal for Barcelona in 2-0 win vs. Valencia
close several times before Barcelona settled down after halftime, and Messi sealed the win right before the final whistle.
Barcelona next turns to the Champions League for its home match against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, when it will aim to protect a 3-1 lead in their secondleg quarterfinal.
Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann also struck a brace as the defending champions strengthened their hold on third place with a 2-1 victory at Deportivo La Coruna.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was redcarded apparently for complaining just before halftime as his team moved four points clear of fourth-place Valencia following its first loss in 11 rounds.
Barcelona had a perfect start when Suarez used one touch to drive Messi’s pass under goalkeeper Diego Alves and finish off a counterattack started by Sergio Busquets.
But Valencia’s complete control of the rest of the first half led to the rare sight of Barcelona without the ball — and seemingly at a loss as to how it could recover it in front of silent fans.
Valencia’s pressure produced poor passes from Barcelona players — Gerard Pique was particularly careless — as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side besieged Bravo’s goal.
The visitors’ best hope of equalizing came after Pique fouled Rodrigo Moreno while disputing a throw-in just inside the box.
Bravo smothered Parejo’s spot kick, but Valencia kept threatening a goal through Alcacer.
Messi curled a free kick off the corner of the goalframe in the 64th, but he had to wait until Valencia’s entire team except its goalkeeper went forward in hope of a last-gasp equalizer. That left Messi all alone to beat Diego Alves after he saved Messi’s initial chip shot.
Bale hurt his left calf two minutes into the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, and Modric went down after tweaking his right knee in the 57th, with Madrid winning 1-0.
Sergio Ramos volleyed in Ronaldo’s free kick for the 24th-minute lead. Ronaldo fired a spot kick off the post in the 67th, but James Rodriguez worked two one-two passing combinations to score two minutes later.
Juan Jimenez hit back immediately for Malaga when Pepe left him unmarked in the 76th.
Ronaldo then tapped Javier Hernandez’s cross into the open net for his competition leading 39th goal of the season.
Griezmann moved into third place on the season’s top-scorer list after he struck with a scissor kick to put Atletico ahead in the fifth and added his 20th league goal in the 22nd. Deportivo’s Oriol Riera scored with a header in the 78th.
Athletic Bilbao hosted Getafe late.
FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, right, duels for the ball against Valencia’s Javi Fuego, second left, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain on Saturday, April 18.