Sports

Suarez, Umtiti move Barcelona closer to La Liga title

Suarez, Umtiti move Barcelona closer to La Liga title

Luis Suarez opened the scoring in the 15th minute, and Samuel Umtiti made it 2-0 in the 51st.

Despite their exertions in Rome, Valverde resisted the temptation to rest key players, with Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho coming in for Ivan Rakitic and Nelson Semedo.

The Spanish champions-elect will also be consoled by the thought that their bitter rivals Real Madrid are now languishing in fourth place in La Liga.

Barca's goalkeeper has been excellent this season and he was kept busy as Valencia attacked, saving again from Rodrigo two minutes before half time. As well as setting a new La Liga unbeaten record, Barca need to avoid defeat in just six more league matches to go an entire league season unbeaten.

Club-record signing Coutinho then delivered an outswinging corner from which Samuel Umtiti headed in Barca's second in the 51st minute, shortly after Gerard Pique had saved Umtiti's blushes by clearing a shot from Valencia forward Santi Mina off the line following a slip by the France defender.

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The win was also something of a tonic after the criticism of their collapse in Europe on Wednesday, when they lost 3-0 at Roma to go out at the quarter-final stage on away goals.

"This wasn't a week to think about records, we don't give it too much importance".

Both teams played attacking of football but Valencia keeper, Neto, was kept busy by the menacing Catalan forwards. We're focused. Obviously what happened in the Champions League was bad.

Suarez, who opened the scoring before Samuel Umtiti's header sealed the win, says the reaction from some of the press and the fans makes it feel as though winning the domestic title nearly does not matter. "We wanted to reach the final".

There is no doubt Barca's shock defeat in Italy still lingers, and may still, even if the Catalans secure the first part of an expected domestic double by winning the Copa del Rey next weekend.