The result means Barcelona stay four points clear of Los Che and eight ahead of both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. Here are the five key talking points from the game.
1. Goal-line technology needed, now
Spain is the only one of the only major leagues which doesn’t yet have goal-line technology and in the biggest game of the season so far, first versus second, La Liga was embarrassed.
Messi’s powerful strike was fumbled over the goal-line by Neto, who then scrambled it away, but the officials did not give the goal.
Few in the stadium doubted that the ball crossed the line but unfortunately for Barcelona, the men that mattered were among their number.
It was the second time in 2017 that Barcelona have been denied a goal in a similar situation, with a legal goal ruled out in January in a 1-1 draw against Real Betis.
The league’s chief, Javier Tebas, says VAR technology will be introduced next season, which will finally bring Spanish football up to speed on that front—but still will not offer the conclusive proof of a ball crossing the line which goal-line tech does.
2. Valencia’s title challenge is real
This was the battle of the unbeaten teams and the point where many felt either Barcelona would show they have been lucky to be so far ahead of the chasing pack, or Valencia’s title challenge would hit the rocks.
Neither was proven true. Barcelona will argue that with Messi’s goal this would have been a very different game, while Valencia came minutes away from being within one point of the Catalans at the top of the table.
Los Che had lost a bit of momentum recently, needing a fair helping of luck to beat Espanyol last weekend, but this performance will give them a second wind as now they and their fans believe a title challenge is possible.
For many years Valencia were a force in Europe and now returning to Champions League football is the minimum expectation for the club.
3. Samuel Umtiti at it again
Serious question. How many better centre-backs are there in world football than Samuel Umtiti?
The 24-year-old Frenchman has been mentioned a few times in these reports on Mirror Football, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Umtiti is spectacular.
Appearing everywhere to put out fires when Valencia were able to get forward, Umtiti has an invaluable knack for being in the right place at the right time.
With Gerard Pique suspended and the lesser-spotted Thomas Vermaelen beside him in the back-line, Umtiti didn’t bat an eyelid and just got on with his game, leading the defence.
In the interests of fairness, he was lucky not to concede a penalty when vying with Guedes for the ball in the second half.
4. Rodrigo continues quiet improvement
Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno is 26 and his career has started reasonably slowly. However he finally seems to be building up steam.
With his strike against Barcelona, well-taken at the near post after a nice team move, he reached eight goals for the season in La Liga.
In Valencia’s rise under Marcelino it was Premier League misfit Simeone Zaza who has taken most of the credit, but Rodrigo has been doing his part too.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui took notice and played him against Albania in the World Cup qualifier in October, and was rewarded with a goal.
If Diego Costa doesn’t hit the ground running for Atletico in January and make himself completely unable to be ignored, Rodrigo is on course to book himself a seat on the plane to the Russia World Cup.
5. The other side of Valencia’s support
Outside the stadium hordes of Valencia fans greeted the arrival of the team bus, having waited for hours drinking, eating and enjoying the November sun in the streets by Mestalla.
Similar scenes to when Gary Neville was in charge, except then the tone was one of anger and disgust. Now they are with the players, with the coach, with the club.
The atmosphere was red hot and in the second half especially, Valencia gave the fans the performance their efforts deserved.
Valencia fans are quick to let their team know when they are not good enough, as Neville will testify, but also ready to back them to the hilt as we saw today.