FC Barcelona | Arturo Vidal

Arturo Vidal’s lionhearted performance was an essential factor in Barcelona’s hard-earned win over Rayo Vallecano, according to Ernesto Valverde.

Vidal and Messi

The LaLiga leaders came from behind to prevail 3-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday thanks to goals from Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Chile international Vidal, 31, started for the 19th time in all competitions since his switch from Bayern Munich in August and was typically energetic in helping Barca overturn Raul de Tomas’ 24th-minute opener.

The midfielder registered more touches and tackles than any other player on the pitch and earned warm praise from his head coach.

“He played a great game in many ways,” said Valverde.

“He has an incredible heart, he’s always close to the penalty area – his own and the opposition’s – and he has a very high recovery rate.

“Both he and [Sergio] Busquets kept us going at certain times.”