December 22, 2012
Real Madrid players, including Cristiano Ronaldo (center) support Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova before Saturday's match.

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova was released from the hospital on Saturday, two days after undergoing throat surgery to remove a tumor - giving the team a boost just ahead of its Spanish league game at Valladolid.

Players were informed of Vilanova's discharge shortly before the game and went on to win the match 3-1 thanks to goals by Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, and Cristian Tello, extending its league-record start of 16 victories in 17 rounds under its first-year manager.

Assistant Jordi Roura was on the sideline for the game in place of Vilanova.

"We were in the dressing room when they told us,'' Roura said. "We told the entire team and it was well received.

"It was a hard match emotionally because of all that has happened this week, but as far as the game went it was more of the same.''

Roura, who like Vilanova is a former Barcelona player, said the coach had helped choose the starting lineup and that he had not varied from his boss's game plan.

"These have been some hard days,'' Roura said. "At the beginning it looked like it might be more complicated, but it seems like things are getting sorted out. Now there is much more optimism.''

Vilanova also had surgery to remove a tumor from a saliva gland in 2011 while he was Pep Guardiola's assistant. He was back with the team ahead of schedule in 15 days.

Barcelona announced on Wednesday that Vilanova needed surgery again after doctors had discovered the reappearance of the tumor. He is expected to undergo around six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The club said that he may be able to return to coaching duties while continuing his treatment.

"It's a surprise and joy that he is home now,'' said Barcelona defender Dani Alves. "We are here to help him any way he can. Football is secondary now, he is fighting for his life.''

Roura will remain in charge of the team while Vilanova recovers.

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