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Aug 24, 2012

Vilanova not critical of Valdes

Barcelona head coach Tito Vilanova was looking on the bright side after his side secured a narrow 3-2 advantage in their Spanish Supercopa first leg against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Thursday night.

• Barca edge thriller

The momentum seemed to be with Barca after they stormed back from 1-0 down to lead 3-1 with time running out, but a late Victor Valdes mistake allowed Angel di Maria to grab an 85th minute goal which keeps the tie very much alive ahead of next Wednesday's second leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Vilanova said he had no reason to criticise Valdes, as the goalkeeper's ability to start attacks from the back remained key to Barcelona's style of play.

"I have not spoken with Valdes, as there is nothing to talk about," Vilanova said. "He should keep doing what he is doing. For years he has helped us a lot to bring the ball out from deep. If he started hitting the ball long, we would lose our combination game. One day one player can make a mistake, the next day another player. I am focusing on the positive. He played well, and helped us a lot on high balls."

The scoreline after 90 minutes left the tie wide open for the return leg next week, Vilanova said.

"Against a team like Madrid a tie is never over," he continued. "The result is not decisive for either team. It is always good to win, but we might have had a bigger lead. 3-2 is a bit tight. But we have an advantage and we go to the Bernabeu to compete for the trophy."

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano admitted the concession of a soft late goal had taken the gloss of the win.

"The feeling is bitter because of the final score but we are relaxed," Mascherano told Barca TV. "Don't forget that we won. And we did it against a good team. We remain in control of our own destiny. It will be difficult but we have an advantage."

Mascherano's centre-half partner Gerard Pique - who looked to have regained his form and confidence after a difficult last season under previous coach Josep Guardiola - said he was confident Barca would do enough next week to retain the trophy.

"It can happen, nobody has to blame Victor, that is how we play," Pique said. "With a 3-1 or 4-1 we might have been too relaxed. Normally we do not do badly at the Bernabeu and if that happens again the Supercopa will be ours. We know how Madrid are, they had two chances and scored two goals. They are a dangerous team and we know that, although the Bernabeu will be difficult, we can win the title."

Goalscorer Pedro, who equalised just moments after Cristiano Ronaldo had put Madrid ahead early in the second half, said Di Maria's late goal showed Barcelona would have to be on their guard at the Bernabeu.

"At the end the score was a bit narrow for us as we had a lot of chances," Pedro said. "The last goal we conceded is not a disaster, but we had a chance for 4-1, and in the next move they made it 3-2. But we are happy with the win. Now we need to play a good game there. We need to concentrate for 90 minutes because it will be difficult."

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