Barcelona striker Luis Suarez felt that beating Valencia was made all-the-more sweeter as it came from an injury time penalty via Lionel Messi.
The Liga champions looked set for a draw at Mestalla after Suarez had drawn them level at 2-2 following quickfire goals from Munir El Haddadi and Rodrigo early in the second half.
Messi, who opened the scoring after 22 minutes, drilled home from the spot in the 94th minute after Suarez had been tripped by Aymen Abdennour, prompting missiles to be thrown from a furious home crowd, with a water bottle striking Neymar on the head.
The victory came at a cost for Barca, who lost captain Andres Iniesta to a knee ligament injury following a robust early challenge from Enzo Perez that set the tone for a tempestuous encounter in Cesare Prandelli’s first home game in charge.
But Suarez hopes that the manner of the winner will give his side strength in the coming weeks, as they moved a point above Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid at the top of the table, having played a game more.
Speaking to Barca TV, he said: “We showed why we’re one of the title candidates. We fought until the end and this result will give us strength going forward.
“It feels so much better to have got the win like this.”
Sergio Busquets admitted that the injury to Iniesta was a major low point during a game littered with controversial incidents.
Messi’s opening goal was allowed to stand despite Suarez jumping over his shot while in an offside position, and Busquets himself was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a shirt pull, while Barca were furious that Perez was not even booked for his challenge that saw their skipper carried off on a stretcher.
“There were a lot of controversial moments but the penalty was really clear. You then have to analyse the incidents one by one,” Busquets told beIN Sports.
“It’s a shame about Andres. It’s a dangerous zone and he’ll be out for some weeks. Hopefully he’ll recover as soon as possible.
“It wasn’t our best game but we played to win and that’s what happened.”