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Five Aside: Di Maria a skillful crosser

Five Aside 15 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 23, 2012

Barcelona dedicate win to Vilanova

Barcelona's players insist their 3-1 victory over Valladolid on Sunday was inspired by manager Tito Vilanova who is currently battling illness.

• La Liga: Saturday review
• Blog: Heartfelt win for Tito

Xavi, 32, scored Barca's opener in the 43rd minute and believes Vilanova's successful operation buoyed the Blaugrana ahead of their final match for the year.

"We wanted to dedicate the win to Tito," Xavi said. "He's not going through the best of times but now he's home, and that's great news. The operation went well and we worked hard to be able to dedicate this victory to him.

"We're on a great run and we want to continue on this path. We're physically strong and when we return from the break we want to continue in this form."

Cristian Tello sealed the 3-1 win with a stoppage time goal, helping to maintain Barca's unbeaten record this season.

"It was a special match because we're coming off of a difficult week," Tello told the club's official website. "We want to dedicate this victory to Tito."

Defender Dani Alves added: "Once again we stepped up to the challenge. We want to dedicate this victory to our manager. The most important thing you can do is fight for life. Hopefully we'll be on the same form next year."

Vilanova was released from hospital just hours before the match, leaving his assistant Jordi Roura in charge of the La Liga leaders.

Roura was satisfied with his side's performance under the circumstances, although he believes the result should have been put beyond doubt well before full-time.

"It is true that today the game was a bit special because of the situation surrounding us," he said. "But if we just talk about sport, it was just another match and three more points. The game was a bit difficult but we managed to finally win it. I think that in the first part we dominated the game and we had our chances.

"They had some as well, they could have scored as well, but they didn't. We were lucky when we scored the first goal. That fact gave us confidence and in the second part I think we could even scored more."

Barca maintained their nine-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid and head into the winter break having dropped just two points in 17 games.

"As I said before I can't be more grateful for our record this season," Roura said. "We've played 17 games and we've won 16 of them. We have just drawn one. I think this is a really positive thing.

"We have ended the year very well so we can take the winter break with a good feeling. I think we can be very happy."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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