Messi scored the third goal to kill the game off against Alaves
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says Lionel Messi was the key factor as his side ended 2019 with a 4-1 win against Alaves on Saturday.
Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal had given Barca a 2-1 lead at Camp Nou but Pere Pons' header brought Alaves back into the game.
But with the Basque side pressing, Messi scored a stunning solo effort to wrap up the three points before Luis Suarez added the fourth from the penalty spot.
"All games are tough," Valverde said. "When they scored, they were spurred on and they had the chance to level, but Leo's scored a great goal and things are seen in a different way from there.
"These things happen with Messi. We see it all. Something like that can happen, it's an advantage we have, he appears and he scores a goal."
Valverde felt Barca played "well in the first half" and admitted that "at the start of the second period we played with less impetus, but we got some room to breathe with the third goal."
But he insisted: "I don't think it was to do with relaxing, just that we came into the game on the back of an intense match on Wednesday and when you go 2-0 up you think you have a good lead."
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