Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde praised his side for overcoming a ‘difficult test’, after the Catalans beat Basque rivals ?Deportivo Alaves 2-0 away from home.

Both goals came courtesy of Lionel Messi with Barcelona dominating possession with 73%, but it took until the 55th minute for the La Liga giants to break down Alaves’s stubborn defence.

Deportivo Alaves v Barcelona - La Liga

?Speaking post-match, Valverde commented on the defensive mentality of their opponents, saying: “Alaves were so compact that their forward was closer to our midfielders than defenders.

“We’ve overcome a difficult test. It took a lot to open the scoring.

“They were stuck within a 15-metre space and it meant that sometimes we were so close that there were as many as 18 players in such a small space.”

Barcelona also missed a penalty just before half-time, with Messi was denied by a very good save from Fernando Pacheco. However, the diminutive star got on the scoresheet after the break when his shot from Gerard Deulofeu’s ball was deflected in and he scored a second from Jordi Alba’s headed pass.

Messi, who has scored a record 351 La Liga goals, had the chance for a hat-trick, but his 20-yard shot hit the bar. Alaves threatened their visitors on a couple of occasions, most notably when Ruben Sobrino forced Marc Andre ter-Stegen into a save after racing through on goal, but Barcelona were by far the better team and deserved the win.

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