Valverde pays tribute to ‘decisive’ Suarez in Barcelona’s big win

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 06: Luis Suarez of Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 06, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Ernesto Valverde praised the “decisive” Luis Suarez after scoring a critical late opener against Atletico Madrid to move Barcelona one step closer to winning La Liga.

The former Liverpool striker’s form has been put into question this season following a difficult spell, which had seen Suarez only manage two goals in 10 outings between January 17 to February 19.

This had led to concerns that the 32-year-old’s best days were now behind him, with Barcelona signing Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan in an attempt to lower Suarez’s minutes on the pitch.

But the Uruguay international seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch of late after firing in his seventh goal in nine games to give Barcelona an 85th-minute lead in their 2-0 victory against Atletico on Saturday.

“He [Suarez] always ends up being decisive,” said Valverde, according to AOL.

“He’s a permanent headache for the opponents and you don’t know when he’s going to appear.

“He was fresh, with a spark, and he had a great goalkeeper [Jan Oblak] in front of him.”

Lionel Messi scored the other goal a minute later to put Barcelona 11 points clear at the top of La Liga heading into the final seven matches.

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 21: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF beats Iago Herrerin of Athletic Club to score Real's first goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Athletic Club at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 21, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

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However, Valverde warned that nothing is guaranteed until Barcelona have officially wrapped up the league title.

“It’s three very important points,” he said.

“We are closer to the title, but we still have it [to win].

“The work has to be finished. Today [Saturday] was a fundamental match because they can mean a lot.

“We are very happy because our opponent was second in the table and a huge team who has fought to the end with one less man.”

Meanwhile, Atletico manager Diego Simeone was left fuming over the referee’s decision to give Diego Costa a red card during the first half for allegedly insulting the match official.