Martino dedicates derby win to injured Valdes
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino dedicated his side's crucial 1-0 win away to Espanyol in the Catalan derby to stricken goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
The Spanish international looks to have played his last game for the club after suffering cruciate ligament damage in Barca's 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Wednesday.
Valdes had already signalled his intention to leave the club when his contract expires in June and will now also miss the World Cup in Brazil.
"I would like to on behalf of all of us - the technical team, players, staff - to send our support to Victor. We hope his recovery will be quick and obviously we dedicate this victory to him," said Martino.
"This team is used to bad news, both on and off the pitch, for a while now and their way to respond is on the pitch as they have always done."
Barca couldn't afford to be weighed down by the news of Valdes' injury as they travelled to local rivals Espanyol amidst the tightest La Liga title race in years.
And they ground out a vital win as Lionel Messi's penalty 14 minutes from time was enough to hand them a second 1-0 win over Espanyol this season.
"Derbies are always derbies and you have to win them," added Martino.
"It doesn't come easy and they are always tight games, for that reason this was a risky away game for us and we value the three points even more."
Victory moves Barca two points clear of Atletico Madrid and five ahead of Real Madrid with both sides from the capital in action later on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano respectively.
The Catalans now firmly have the destiny of the title in their own hands as they host Atletico on the final day of the season.
However, Martino is taking nothing for granted after suffering a shock defeat to relegation-threatened Valladolid earlier this month.
"What is left continues to be very difficult and very important. We still have seven finals left between now and the end of the league season and in those games we will also have with us the memory of our defeat in Valladolid."
It was a thrilling 4-3 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last weekend that put Barca right back in the fight for the title and midfielder Sergio Busquets insists they are determined not to let their advantage slip.
"Real Madrid had the advantage, the Bernabeu was an ultimatum for us and we recovered. That is the mentality of the team and we need to continue like that," he told Canal Plus.
"Now we are in a privileged position and we depend on ourselves. Hopefully that will be the way things continue until the final game against Atletico Madrid."
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