BARCELONA, Dec 1 (Agencies): Sergio Busquets’ goal deep in injury time to give Barcelona a 1-0 win against Valencia that was overshadowed by a fan’s death following a violent clash between supporters of Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Barcelona striker Lionel Messi passes the ball through two Valencia defenders during their Spanish league match at Barcelone on Sunday.
Busquets blasted in a rebound to secure the victory at Mestalla Stadium that kept Barcelona two points behind Spanish league leader Real Madrid.
Third-place Atletico prevailed 2-0 over Deportivo shortly before Madrid’s Clinico San Carlos hospital said a man had died of injuries sustained after a fight erupted between rival groups early Sunday morning near its Vicente Calderon stadium. The man was identified only as a 43-year-old Deportivo fan.
Sevilla moved ahead of Valencia into fourth place and Spain’s last Champions League spot after routing visitors Granada 5-1, with striker Carlos Bacca leading the way with two goals.
Lionel Messi started Barcelona’s game-clinching move with a lobbed pass that Neymar header powerfully at goalkeeper Diego Alves, who did well to turn back the ball only for Busquets to drill it right back past him.
“We were lucky in the last minute to grab the three points,” said Busquets. “A draw is never enough and we had to try until the very end.”
Messi appeared to be hit in the head by a water bottle thrown from the stands while his teammates piled on top of one another to celebrate the winning goal. The Argentine rubbed his head following the incident but appeared to be unhurt.
Barcelona would never have been in position to press for the victory were it not for Gerard Pique clearing Rodrigo Moreno’s shot from the goalline before goalie Claudio Bravo saved one-on-one situations against Sofiane Feghouli and Alvaro Negredo in the second half.
In the capital, authorities said the man who later died in hospital was initially retrieved from Madrid’s Manzanares River where the street fight between fans started at 0800 GMT. The game started as scheduled three hours later.
Police said they had made 24 arrests among four radical groups linked to football clubs.
The man died shortly after the match ended, and the public announcer asked Deportivo’s traveling fans to remain seated after the final whistle.
“Today is one of the saddest for Spanish football in recent years. It has been despicable,” said Deportivo coach Victor Fernandez.
Atletico said in a statement that it condemned the violence.
“We want to make clear that we had nothing at all to do with these events,” said Atletico president Enrique Cerezo, adding “we always seek peace” between clubs.
In the match, Saul Niguez headed Atletico in front in the 43rd, turning in a free kick flicked on by striker Mario Mandzukic, who had hit the post earlier.
Midfielder Arda Turan sealed the points in the 55th with a long-distance strike that glanced off a defender and went into the net.
Sevilla had little trouble keeping Granada winless in nine straight rounds.
Bacca scrambled in a ball which Granada goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez had spilled under duress to put Sevilla on its way in the 24th.
Granada’s Youssef El Arabi leveled from the penalty spot in the 42nd after Stephane Mbia had handled the ball.
But Ever Banega scored seconds after hitting the bar to restore the hosts’ advantage in the 60th before Bacca got his double in the 79th. Mbia hit two minutes from time before Kevin Gameiro polished off the rout in stoppage time.
Granada was left one point above relegation-threatened Deportivo.
Villarreal also kept Cordoba winless and stuck at the foot of the table with an easy 2-0 victory on the road as it rose into sixth place. Striker Luciano Vietto hit in the 24th and substitute Ikechuwku Uche added a second in the 71st.