Raphinha Header Sends Barcelona Nine Points Clear

Barcelona are nine points clear at the top of La Liga after beating struggling Valencia.

Raphinha put Xavi’s side into the lead with a header from Sergio Busquets’ dinked ball over the top.

They looked set to take control of the game when they won a penalty in the second half but Ferran Torres hit the post against his old team.

Ansu Fati struck the woodwork a minute later and Barcelona ended with 10 men after Ronald Araujo was sent off.

The Barca defender was shown a straight red card for a professional foul on Hugo Duro, who was running on to Jules Kounde’s poor header.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen kept his 18th clean sheet in 24 La Liga games this season and only had to make one save, keeping out Justin Kluivert’s 20-yard strike with seconds left.

Barca went 10 points clear briefly and Real Madrid could only narrow that gap to nine points with a goalless draw at Real Betis later on Sunday.

Barcelona were without their three top scorers Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele and Pedri through injury, while boss Xavi was watching from the stands as he served a touchline ban.

Valencia remain in the relegation zone after the defeat.

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