Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde hails fighting spirit after come-from-behind win over Rayo Vallecano

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was pleased by the character his team showed to come from behind and win at Rayo Vallecano.

The Spanish champions stunned their hosts with two late goals as they claimed a 3-2 victory to extend their lead at the top of LaLiga.

Barcelona took an early lead through Luis Suarez but looked to be heading for defeat when efforts from Jose Pozo and Alvaro Garcia either side of half-time turned the game on its head.

Luis Suarez scored a winner at the death to complete Barcelona's comeback on Saturday

Luis Suarez scored a winner at the death to complete Barcelona's comeback on Saturday

Luis Suarez scored a winner at the death to complete Barcelona’s comeback on Saturday

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde (right) was pleased with his team's character 

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde (right) was pleased with his team's character 

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde (right) was pleased with his team’s character 

The two late goals extended Barcelona's lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of the table

The two late goals extended Barcelona's lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of the table

The two late goals extended Barcelona’s lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of the table

Ousmane Dembele equalised with three minutes remaining and then Suarez got his second goal of the game in the final minute to seal a dramatic comeback.

Valverde accepted his side had been disjointed at time in the game but was happy to take the three points whichever way they came.

‘I was happy with the victory. Our attitude was always the same, to go for it, and that’s what gave us the win,’ Valverde told the club’s official website.

‘We started well, but then we lacked depth. We had many problems with our opponents and once they scored, they grew in confidence.

It was a late smash and grab by Barcelona, who had trailed with three minutes remaining

It was a late smash and grab by Barcelona, who had trailed with three minutes remaining

It was a late smash and grab by Barcelona, who had trailed with three minutes remaining

Ousmane Dembele scored their equaliser at 2-2 before Luis Suarez scored the late winner

Ousmane Dembele scored their equaliser at 2-2 before Luis Suarez scored the late winner

Ousmane Dembele scored their equaliser at 2-2 before Luis Suarez scored the late winner

The result extended Barcelona's lead at the top of La Liga to four points ahead of Atletico 

The result extended Barcelona's lead at the top of La Liga to four points ahead of Atletico 

The result extended Barcelona’s lead at the top of La Liga to four points ahead of Atletico 

‘In the end we had to go for it, trying to find finishes from within the area, and if that couldn’t be achieved, trying another way. The important thing is the character of this team.’

Dembele came on as a substitute for the ineffective Rafinha, who kept his place in the team in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi. Despite struggling to get into the game, he made a telling impact with his late equaliser.

‘We expect a lot from him,’ Valverde said. ‘Dembele can be decisive and today he helped us with a great goal that allowed us to get the next.’

Suarez followed up his hat-trick in El Classico with a double on Saturday evening to take his tally for the season to nine LaLiga goals.

He said: ‘The game was very difficult but the most important thing is that the team knew how to turn the situation around. We have to be self-critical, but the important thing was to win the game.’

 

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