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Lionel Messi netted his 30th goal of the season before missing his second penalty of the game as leaders Barcelona returned to winning ways in LaLiga with a 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid.
Gerard Pique won the 43rd-minute spot kick that proved the difference between the sides but, following back-to-back draws against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao in the top flight, Ernesto Valverde's men were again short of their fluent best.
Those previous results and Atletico Madrid's win over third-bottom Rayo Vallecano earlier on Saturday meant Barca went into the game with their now-restored lead at the top trimmed to four points.
Former Blaugrana goalkeeper Jordi Masip impressed in goal for Valladolid, not least after substitute Philippe Coutinho won a second penalty and he plunged to his left to deny Messi.
Referee Juan Martinez Munuera rejected earlier penalty claims from Kevin-Prince Boateng on his first LaLiga start but was persuaded by Pique's slightly theatrical fall under Michel's clumsy challenge.
Masip guessed correctly to his left but was beaten for power and accuracy by Messi, before Pique made himself useful in his own box – getting a vital touch with Enes Unal poised to convert Nacho's cross.
Sergi Guardiola dragged a shot wide as Valladolid continued to acquit themselves well in the second half, although they were indebted to a stunning reaction save from Masip as he denied Messi on the half-volley.
The visiting keeper scrambled from his line effectively to snuff out danger after Boateng sprung a flimsy offside trap in the 55th minute.
Luis Suarez replaced the ex-AC Milan attacker with an hour played and he was soon thwarted by Masip in a one-on-one.
Messi's frustrations approached boiling point as he was booked for protests following a robust challenge from Anuar Mohamed.
He would prove the match-winner, even if Masip did his mood no favours five minutes from time, calmly pouching his headed follow-up from the penalty save.
Missed Penalty! Would you believe it, Leo Messi has his penalty saved!
Goal! Leo Messi slots away the penalty! Barca take the lead! That's just the 22 league goals for him!
Gerald Pique is set for his 300th La Liga game for Barca! What a servant!
Now for Valladolid! Sergio is going with a 3-4-2-1 formation. Keep an eye out on Turkish striker Enes Unal, the former Man City prospect has three goals in the league so far!
Team news! Messi starts! As does Dembele, whilst January signing Kevin Prince Boateng gets a runout! Luis Suarez, Phil Coutinho & Ivan Rakatic are on the bench!
More respect laid down by the visitors! Look at that neat dressing room!
More of a respectful, activation vibe being laid down by Real Valladolid.
The players are here and have stopped off for some selfies with the fans!
📍 Camp Nou— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 16, 2019
The players are here 😍 pic.twitter.com/aTjT5mAqQj
So here we go, the Nou Camp under the Saturday night lights! Can Barca get out of their funk ahead of a tough run of games which includes clashes against Lyon, Sevilla & back to back El Clasicos. It will be interesting to see who Valverde will pick tonight, especially with whispers that Leo Messi will be dropped to the bench!
Good evening! Welcome to the Live Updates of Barcelona Vs Real Valladolid! The Catalans can open up a temporary gap of seven points over second-place Atletico Madrid before Real Madrid play tomorrow. Barca has stumbled in the last few weeks, drawing their last three competitive games against Valencia, Real Madrid & Atletic Bilbao. Valladolid is currently in the lower half of the table and are just three points away from the relegation zone. As ever, you can join me for all the latest team news, build up and match commentary of the game, including video hightlights!