“Alena has earned his step as much as the primary crew,” Valverde mentioned.
A slim victory places Barca again on the most sensible, in entrance of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, who have been every held to 1-1 attracts previous on Sunday, away to Alaves and Girona respectively.
Villarreal, in the meantime, keep 17th, with the power mounting on trainer Javier Calleja, who has overseen just one league win since September.
Alena, a dainty attacking midfielder with 13 years coaching in Barca’s academy, is more likely to revel in many extra celebrations in entrance of the membership’s fanatics however for Dembele, the sense was once time have been operating out.
Valverde’s persistence with the 21-year-old gave the look to be dressed in skinny when he was once dropped in opposition to Actual Betis 3 weeks in the past however a past due equaliser in opposition to Atletico earned a reprieve, and this was once every other vigorous efficiency.
“He performed a perfect recreation and was once one among our remarkable gamers,” Valverde mentioned. “He has such a lot of belongings – penetration, dribbling, capturing, velocity, self belief, bold. Let’s hope it continues like this.”
Heartening too for Valverde can have been the blank sheet, Barcelona’s first within the league since the second one recreation of the season again in August.
An early Dembele shot may have long past in had it no longer been blocked through Santiago Caseres earlier than the Frenchman became supplier, choosing out Pique with a wonderfully judged go. Pique held off Victor Ruiz, in all probability even too vigorously, and headed in.
Villarreal, alternatively, remained in contact, actually, as Pique was once fortunate to flee a harsher punishment when he threw a hand into Gerard Moreno’s face. When Moreno was once substituted he made certain to mutter against Pique on his means off.
Barca after all put the outcome past doubt as Lionel Messi’s sensible move from deep freed Alena, who chipped Sergio Asenjo like he had scored dozens of targets like this moderately than simply his first.
Little over 100 kilometres away in Catalonia, Atletico Madrid’s troubles clear of house had persisted as they wanted Diego Costa to lend a hand them clutch a past due equaliser in opposition to Girona.
Costa’s superb run and primary contact panicked Girona’s Jonas Ramalho into poking into his personal web at Montilivi after the in-form Cristhian Stuani had fired the hosts forward from the penalty spot.
Keeping off defeat was once sufficient to position a grin on Diego Simeone’s face at full-time however his aspect have now received most effective as soon as in seven league fits at the street this season.
“L. a. Liga is barbaric,” Simeone mentioned afterwards. “There are not any simple combatants.”
Girona are 7th, with Stuani main the way in which. His objective from the spot was once his 12th of the marketing campaign and sufficient to depart him most sensible of the scoring charts, forward of Iago Aspas and Messi.
Sevilla can have reclaimed their position on the summit however as an alternative was the newest aspect to be thwarted at Mendizorrotza.
Alaves stormed forward when Sevilla’s Sergi Gomez performed Jonathan Calleri onside through feathering the ball on its means via, with Jony ready to complete on the again submit.
Sevilla have been incensed however nonetheless left with some degree because of a wise end from Wissam Ben Yedder. Alaves keep fourth, with the draw making sure most effective two of the desk’s most sensible six – Barca and Actual Madrid – controlled to win this weekend.