Xavi Hernandez bemoaned Barcelona‘s inability to kill of games as they returned to winning ways in LaLiga by beating Valencia 1-0 on Sunday.
Raphinha‘s first-half header opened the scoring at Camp Nou, but Barca were forced to hold on at the end after Ferran Torres missed a penalty and Ronald Araujo was sent off.
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The three points completed a good few days for Barca, though, after they beat Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal on Thursday following last weekend’s shock league defeat to Almeria.
“We have to know how to kill games off,” Xavi said after the win. “We had a lot of chances to do so and we didn’t do it; then with the Araujo red card, we suffered at the end.
“These are games when we should be talking about a comfortable victory, but the lack of effectiveness in the final third forces us to suffer.”
Xavi was happy with how Barca competed with 10 men, though, especially with Ousmane Dembele, Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Gavi all missing.
“I am happy with the effort levels,” he added. “Everyone ran hard. But there is also a lot to improve.
“We had some big absentees in attack. We’ve had some really physical games, there is tiredness, injuries, [Frenkie] de Jong came off with some muscle fatigue carried over from Real Madrid.
“We have to be self critical, but there’s also a lot of fatigue, also mentally, so this free midweek will do is good, but there is a lot to improve.”
Xavi asked for supporters not to “crucify” Ferran for his missed penalty and backed the referee’s decision not to award a late spot kick to Valencia for a Franck Kessie challenge on Fran Perez.
He also had no qualms with Araujo’s sending off for a last man foul on Hugo Duro in the 59th minute, just four minutes after Ferran’s penalty hit the post.
Ansu Fati also hit post before Araujo’s red but it was Valencia, with an extra man, who were pushing for an equaliser at the end.
They were unable to really test goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, though, leaving coach Ruben Baraja disappointed and his side still second bottom of LaLiga.
“We had chances to leave with something,” Baraja said. “There were spells when we struggled to get adjusted to the game. We can do better for the goal as well.
“But the team reacted well to that setback and we had chances to level. With a player more, we looked to get wide. They defended well. We had chances but did not take them. If we could have been a little more clinical, we would have been going home with a positive result.”
Barca return to action against Athletic Bilbao next weekend, while Valencia face Osasuna.