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Barcelona beaten by Valencia at Camp Nou

ESPN staff
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Lionel Messi scored his first La Liga goal since September © Getty Images
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Barcelona stumbled to a 3-2 home loss against Valencia on Saturday, giving Atletico Madrid a chance to move into sole possession of first place in La Liga.

Barcelona's decision not to sign a defender during the January transfer window may have backfired after Valencia took advantage of a lethargic, uninspired effort from Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

Barca led through Alexis Sanchez's eighth-minute goal, but Dani Parejo equalised for Valencia before the break.

Lionel Messi set up the opener after slashing a pass across the box beyond the far post where Alexis connected oddly to float it over goalkeeper Diego Alves.

Valencia took control from the 44th minute when Parejo exploited a turnover inside the Barcelona half to lead a breakout with Sofiane Feghouli, who returned a pass inside the area for Parejo to score easily.

The diminutive Pablo Piatti headed Valencia ahead after the restart before Messi's penalty levelled the game again.

Messi's goal was his 10th in the league this season but first since September 28 against Almeria.

But Barcelona's defense was dormant five minutes later as Feghouli moved around three players to the goal line before cutting back to meet Paco Alcacer, who blasted past goalkeeper Victor Valdes for the winner.

Barcelona played with 10 men from the 78th minute after Jodi Alba was shown a second yellow card.

Barca's defeat means Atletico can take over sole possession at the top of the table for the first time this season if they do not lose at home to Real Sociedad on Sunday, when Real Madrid can also overtake their greatest rival with a victory at fourth-place Athletic Bilbao.

Atletico and Barcelona share 54 points, while Madrid has 53.

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