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Week 19 in review

In a weekend of surprises perhaps the least surprising result of all came at La Mestalla, where top of the table Valencia comfortably saw off their neighbours Levante in the Derby del Turia. The victory, made to look more convincing with 2 late goals, sees Levante find themselves at the foot of the table for the first time since the opening weekend, where they fell 3-0 at home to Sevilla, as we reach the halfway point in the campaign. Week 19 began at the Bernabéu on Saturday evening, with current La Liga holders Real Madrid comfortably seeing off Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the only game of the evening, Marco Asensio and Martin Ødegaard giving the 2nd place side a 2-0 advantage at the break, before a Karim Benzema penalty with 12 minutes to go put the result beyond doubt. The defeat sees Athletic Bilbao drop out of the European qualification spots.

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The mid-day game on Saturday was a case of as you were for both Cádiz and Alavés, who played out a 1-1 draw, the visitors needing a last minute penalty to rescue a point although they remain 16th, 5 points clear of their hosts on the day. Getafe remain level on points with Alavés after they were beaten 1-0 at home by Villarreal, an early goal from former Alavés man Alfonso Pedraza doing the damage. The biggest shock of the evening was undoubtedly the game at the Camp Nou, where Barcelona crashed to another shock defeat despite having a 1-0 lead going into the last 10 minutes, courtesy of another Lionel Messi goal. Late strikes from both Darko Brasanac and Ezequiel Avila gave Osasuna their 8th win of the season, and condemned the hosts to their 4th defeat of the season, where they now fall 4 points behind second placed Real Madrid in the title race, albeit with a game still in hand. Real Sociedad move back into the qualification spots after a 2-0 win at home against Elche, while there was another massive shock at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla as visitors Eibar climbed off the foot of the table with a 3-0 win against Valladolid, just their second win of the season. The final game of the evening was a thriller in Sevilla, with the hosts grabbing a share of the points in a 2-2 draw with Atlético Madrid courtesy of a Suso goal deep into stoppage time.

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The final game, on Monday evening, saw Real Betis take all 3 points with a 2-1 win against Granada, a late goal ensuring victory after they had originally taken the lead just 5 minutes in before being pegged back. At the halfway point, Valencia find themselves 6 points clear of second placed Real Madrid, enjoying a sensational season under their new manager, who was eventually rewarded for his achievements as he picked up his first Manager of the Month award for 5 victories during a challenging month, which saw Los Che play a total of 9 games in a tough opening to 2021. Valencia fans will be hoping the club can avoid any further major injury issues, with just Guedes out long term at the moment, as they begin to believe they could maybe lift the title for the first time since 2004.

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Valencia need penalties to overcome Vigo

It was an evening in which penalties undoubtedly took centre stage as Valencia squared off against fellow La Liga side Celta Vigo in the quarter finals of the Copa Del Rey. The current holders, at home for the tie, rang in several changes from the side who won the recent Valencian derby 4-1, with Thierry Correia, Emile Smith Rowe, Uros Racic and Joshua Zirkzee being brought into the starting eleven, most noticeable skipper José Gayà and Maxi Gómez making way.

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Valencia were the most positive side in the first half, although with Vigo excellently marshalling their defence, the hosts were mainly reduced to efforts from distance. The first came 17 minutes in, after Rubén Blanco cleared a De La Cruz corner. The ball was worked through midfield via Racic, eventually finding Emile Smith Rowe on the right, the youngster cutting across the middle to create the space but firing his effort high and wide. 11 minutes later Valencia went close from range again, this time a Correia throw knocked down by De La Cruz to Zirkzee, who cut inside the fullback before teeing up Carlos Soler, the stand in skipper for the evening taking a touch before firing an effort just over with Rubén Blanco stretching. The closest opportunity of the first half came just before the break, a direct free kick from Nicolás De La Cruz heading for the top corner before a wonderful fingertip save by the impressive Rubén Blanco to push the shot away.

5 minutes after the break Zirkzee took a knock so the hosts were forced to throw on Maxi Gómez for the rest of the tie. Just 4 minutes after that they found themselves falling behind, against the run of play it has to be said. A loose ball in the middle was knocked on for Iago Aspas who played a superb ball over the top into the path of Santi Mina, the former Valencia striker making no mistake to slot under Cillessen to punish his old club. Valencia needed just 2 minutes to pull themselves level, albeit from the spot. An indirect free kick just outside the box was worked between Soler, Racic and Gameiro, and when Carlos Soler was slipped in on the right, full-back Lucas Olaza was way to forceful in his challenge as he steamed into the midfielder, picking up a booking in the process. Up stepped top goalscorer Kevin Gameiro, who fired into the bottom left beyond Rubén Blanco, even though the keeper had guessed the right way.

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Gameiro: Pulls Valencia level from the spot


Celta Vigo went close again with just 20 minutes remaining, another speculative ball over the top, this time Fran Beltran knocking to Ander Guevara whose long ball picked out Nolito, the former Manchester City striker hitting it first time on the volley, beating Cillessen but seeing his effort fire back off the inside of the post with Valencia relieved to eventually clear. If anything, despite being on top Valencia should have heeded the warning, but they found themselves once again falling behind with just 10 minutes to go. This time it was an interchange of play between the front pairing of Santi Mina and Iago Aspas, Mina eventually finding time inside the area to side foot beyond Cillessen for his second of the game, coming back to haunt his former club.

Valencia were once again handed a life line just 3 minutes later, this time Denis Cheryshev carrying the ball forward from just inside the Celta Vigo half, using substitute striker Maxi Gómez on the overlap. The 24 year old broke into the box and was brought down by Hugo Mallo, the referee once again having little choice but to point to the spot. Up stepped Kevin Gameiro again, opting to go the same way, but this time Rubén Blanco was equal to the penalty, getting down low to push away for a corner, giving his side the chance to dump out the current holders.

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Gameiro: Goes the same way but Rubén Blanco equal to it this time


However, the celebration was extremely short lived when directly from the subsequent corner, a superb delivery by Daniel Wass was met by centre half Gabriel Paulista, who got up above everyone to head home, rescuing his side with just 5 minutes remaining of normal time.

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Gabriel Paulista: Gets up above Celta defence to keep Valencia in the cup


With neither side able to forge an advantage during 30 minutes of extra time, it was down to the lottery of penalties to decide the outcome. Santi Mina continued his fine form slotting home the first from the spot, while Kevin Gameiro bravely opted to go the same way for a 3rd time, this time exorcising the demons of that earlier penalty miss as he had Rubén Blanco well beaten. Renato Tapia was up next, and opted for the bottom right but Cillessen got down well to make the save and hand advantage to the hosts, which was further extended when Maxi Gómez went the same way but beat the keeper. Things got worse for the visitors when former Manchester City youngster Denis Suarez dragged the 3rd penalty wide, Denis Cheryshev showing him how it should be done with an accurate finish to the bottom left. Despite the pressure and Cillessen guessing the right way, Nestor Araujo gave his side a glimmer of hope converting the fourth, but it was left to young midfielder Yunus Musah, who displayed supreme confidence to fire into the bottom left, opting for power which left Rubén Blanco with little chance to save.

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Musah: Youngster has the confidence to step up and seal trip to next round


Despite the drama, with 22 shots during the game (13 on target), with the visitors managing only 5, scoring with their only 2 on target, Los Che definitely deserved to qualify even if they made it more difficult than they would have liked on the night.

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Santi Mina: His two goals weren’t enough against his former club
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Real land Madrid clash but avoid El Derbi Madrileño

Real Madrid avoided rivals Atlético in the semi-final draw for the Copa Del Rey last night, although they will face local side Getafe in their semi-final tie. The 19 time winners of the competition safely navigated their quarter final tie against Villarreal with a 2-1 victory at the Bernabéu. A Sergio Ramos penalty gave Real the lead at half-time, but 11 minutes into the 2nd half the visitors hit back through former Real Madrid man Raúl Albiol. Progress was secured for the hosts 20 minutes from time after Ángel Di María grabbed his seventh goal for the current La Liga champions since his return to the club from PSG.

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Di María: Smart left foot finish sends 19 time winners through


Getafe, twice runners-up in the competition themselves, made easier work of their progress to the semi-finals as they dispatched Alavés 2-0. Experienced striker Jaime Mata opened the scoring just 2 minutes into the game, before completing the job 10 minutes into the second half at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. The former Valladolid striker now has 6 goals in the cup so far this season, joint 2nd best in the competition.

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Mata: Off the mark after just 2 minutes against Alavés


The other semi-final will see Atlético Madrid take on Valencia, who needed penalties to overcome Celta Vigo in their quarter final tie to keep the hopes of retaining the trophy they currently hold alive. 10 time winners Atlético heaped further misery on Barcelona with a 1-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Barcelona, record winners of the competition, have slipped up several times in the league of late, as well as losing in the Spanish Super Cup final against Valencia last month, and will have been hoping to return to form in this one, but despite having most of the chances, a solitary goal from Felipe was enough to send the hosts through, and set up a repeat of the Spanish Super Cup semi-final between the two clubs.

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Felipe: Rises highest to head home and send hosts through
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Valencia held to shock draw in Álava

League leaders Valencia surprised many by dropping points as they were held to a 2-2 draw in their trip to the Mendizorrotza to face 16th place Alavés. The visitors came into the game in fine form, unbeaten in 13 games, and many expected the 3 points a formality for the side who began the day 6 points clear on Saturday night. Valencia made 4 changes from the side who progressed to the Copa Del Rey semi-finals 4 days ago, needing a penalty shoot-out to overcome Celta Vigo. In came Antonio Valencia, José Gayà, Jason and Yunus Musah, with Daniel Wass, Thierry Correia, Emile Smith Rowe and Uros Racic making way.

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Hosts Alavés took the shock lead just 6 minutes into the game, former Blackburn Rovers and Levante midfielder Rubén Rochina whipping a dangerous free kick into the area, superbly met by a towering header by Brazilian defender Rodrigo Ely, the former Milan man directing his effort well beyond the reach of Jasper Cillessen in the Valencia goal. Valencia hauled themselves level on the half hour mark, although they needed the intervention of VAR to be awarded the penalty. A throw-in on the right by Jason was knocked back to the winger by Gameiro, and when he swung one into the box former Newcastle United defender Florian Lejeune inexplicably pushing Joshua Zirkzee over in the area. After a brief check of the monitor, the referee pointed to the spot and top scorer Kevin Gameiro duly dispatched the ball into the corner, Fernando Pacheco well beaten.

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Gameiro: Hauls the visitors level on the half hour mark


6 minutes after the break normal service was resumed as the visitors took the lead. Another throw in on the right hand side, this time Antonio Valencia using Gameiro as the outlet, the striker doing well to drop deep and hold the ball before returning the pass to the full back. The Ecuadorian international carried the ball forward before squaring to Carlos Soler 30 yards out, the central midfielder firing in low and hard, the wet surface helping the ball flash past the sprawling Pacheco.

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Soler: Fires one in from 30 yards out to give Valencia the lead


Valencia almost had a third on 70 minutes but for some resolute defending from the hosts. A deep free kick on the left from José Gayà was sent down the line for De La Cruz, who had dropped wide off his man Lejeune, the wide man spinning and slipping the ball into the area for substitute defender Eliaquim Mangala, who was in the area expecting the set piece to be fired in first time. A great first touch from the centre half teed up Gayà, whose shot cannoned off Lee Kang-In inside the area with the effort looking goalbound. Diakhaby picked up possession again, this time using Valencia on the right hand side, the full back squaring the ball for Gameiro on the edge of the 6 yard box. A last ditch block from Alavés scorer Rodrigo Ely prevented Gameiro adding to his tally, before another well timed tackle from Duarte then cleared the danger.

Alavés were rewarded for their defending as they snatched a vital equaliser with just 3 minutes to square, the impressive Duarte again involved. His throw led to a couple of interchanges with Tachi down the right, the former Espanyol man then whipping the ball into the area where Experienced striker Joselu had peeled off Mangala to meet the ball on the volley, connecting superbly to fire into the roof of the net giving Cillessen no chance, the former Stoke and Newcastle man capping an impressive performance with a goal, and hosts Alavés taking a valuable point in their battle against relegation.

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Joselu: Former Hoffenheim, Stoke and Newcastle man is stand out performer
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Week 20 in review

It was all to play for on Sunday for the chasing pack after league leaders Valencia were pegged back to a shock 2-2 draw by Alavés in the Saturday evening game of Week 20. Athletic Bilbao were the first club to make gains, as they moved up a spot into 5th place following a 2-0 victory against Valladolid in the noon kick off, the visitors failing to register a single shot on target against Gaizka Garitano’s well marshalled side. Next in action were Levante, who faired better than their near neighbours as a 2-0 victory against Getafe saw them move off the bottom spot, midfielder Gonzalo Melero grabbing his first goal of the season to ensure the 3 points after an earlier Sebastian Villa goal.

Biggest gainers of the weekend were undoubtedly Atlético Madrid, who moved up into 3rd spot following a 5-0 demolition of Real Sociedad, who had also been going well until the defeat. Atlético found themselves 3-0 up inside the first 10 minutes of the game, before late goals from Diego Costa and Yannick Carrasco rounded off the thumping, the Madrid side facing leaders Valencia next in the Copa Del Rey semi-final. The move to third came courtesy of dropped points by both Real and Barcelona, both of whom failed to take advantage of Valencia’s dropped points the previous evening. Holders Real Madrid needed a late Karim Benzema goal to take a point against Real Betis in Seville, while Barcelona found themselves 1-0 down after just 2 minutes through a Nolito goal, before Antoine Griezmann rescued the point away at Celta Vigo.

In the proverbial 6 pointer in Eibar, the hosts raced into a 3-0 lead before allowing Huesca a way back into the game, a injury time goal putting the hosts under pressure, although they held out for the 3-2 victory, Huesca now finding themselves at the foot following the defeat. The final game of the weekend saw a narrow 1-0 win for Villarreal against Granada, the winner coming with just 2 minutes remaining from Samuel Chukwueze.

Finally, there was nothing to separate Osasuna and Cádiz on Monday evening, as they played out a 0-0 stalemate.

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First blood to Atlético in Copa Del Rey semi-finals

Atlético Madrid took a massive step towards a 20th Copa Del Rey final with a narrow 1-0 victory against Valencia on Wednesday evening. The visitors gained some revenge for their Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat earlier in the season after they handed the hosts their first defeat in 20 games, a 3-1 loss at the Camp Nou back in October their last defeat. The hosts made 3 changes to the side following their surprise 2-2 draw against Alavés at the weekend, with Daniel Wass, Denis Cheryshev and Maxi Gómez all returning to the side, Antonio Valencia, Nicolás De La Cruz and Joshua Zirkzee dropping to the bench.

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Valencia began positively creating the first chance of note 10 minutes into the game. A throw-in from the returning Wass was picked up by Kevin Gameiro wide right, the striker taking a touch before swinging a ball into the danger area with his left foot. Strike partner Maxi Gómez did well to get above José Giménez in the middle, but unfortunately for the home side his header drifted just over the bar with Jan Oblak stretching to cover. 11 minutes later they went close again, this time Gameiro the main threat. A short goal kick by Cillessen was picked up by Diakhaby, and his ball forward to Maxi Gómez was flicked on to Gameiro, the experienced striker skipping round Felipe to break through into space before dragging his shot just wide of the upright with Oblak coming out to narrow down the angle.

Into the second half Valencia were again looking to break the deadlock from the back, a Diakhaby free kick inside his own half squared to Gabriel Paulista, who in turn played a short pass forward to Carlos Soler. The midfielder squared to midfield partner Yunus Musah, the youngster carrying the ball into the Atlético half, breaking down the right hand side where he was closely marshalled by João Félix, before firing a low cross into the area. Maxi Gómez looked to get on the end of it, but the impressive Giménez was on hand to clear the danger, as he was again a minute later when Cheryshev found himself in space on the left and again looked to pick out Uruguayan striker Gómez.

His second clearance proved to be even more crucial as the visitors launched a classic counter attack to take the lead. His clearance was eventually picked up by wonderkid João Félix, who drove forward before picking out Suarez on the edge of the area. The former Barcelona man laid off for Koke who clipped one into the area first time, Héctor Herrera finding space in the centre to poke beyond Cillessen who was rushing out to clear the danger.

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Herrera: Slipped the ball under Cillessen to break the stalemate


It proved to be the last chance of note, with Atlético hanging on for a vital victory with the second leg to come next month at the Metropolitano. The hosts will be no doubt disappointed not to make more of their chances, Los Che enjoying 14 shots to the visitors 5 during the game. The league leaders will now look to bounce back from 2 poor results with a trip to face 11th placed Elche in 4 days time.

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Héctor Herrera: Man of the match award for midfielder whose goal made difference
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Real Madrid come from behind to win first leg

Current La Liga champions Real Madrid were forced to come from behind to win 2-1 in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey semi-final against local rivals Getafe. The visitors found themselves with a shock lead just 5 minutes into the game, a ball over the top from Mollejo being turned home by Cucho, the 21 year old Colombian on loan from English side Watford claiming his 9th goal of the season. Real Madrid pulled themselves level on the half hour, Di Maria breaking down the right before his deep cross was met by a thundering header from Marco Asensio in the middle, Soria having no chance. The hosts took the advantage just inside the hour, this time the threat coming from the left hand side through Ferland Mendy, playing a one-two with goal scorer Asensio before his chipped cross was originally parried clear by David Soria, but midfielder Martin Ødegaard was on hand to stroke beyond the stranded keeper.

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Ødegaard: On hand to follow up and give Real a lead to take into second leg


Elsewhere in La Liga Barcelona returned to winning ways as they caught up on their game in hand, a double from Brazilian Coutinho in the first half enough to see of Granada 2-0 at the Camp Nou. Huesca also registered a vital victory, overcoming Celta Vigo 3-1 for a valuable 3 points, Rafa Mir, on loan from Wolves, grabbing his first 2 goals of the season to hand Huesca only their third league win of the season, the Aragon club now sitting 1 point behind Cádiz and safety in La Liga.
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Valencia bounce back with convincing win

League leaders Valencia bounced back from their disappointing 1-0 defeat against Atlético Madrid midweek in the Copa Del Rey to brush aside Elche with a fine attacking performance yesterday evening. Benefiting from the extra recovery, the clash at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero not taking place until Monday evening, Barlow made just 3 changes to the side who suffered their first defeat in 20 games. There was an enforced change between the sticks as first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was out with a virus, Jaume Doménech coming in for just his 3rd appearance of the season, while Nicolás De La Cruz and Antonio Valencia also returned to the side.

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Valencia took just 13 minutes to edge in front against their near neighbours, another long range strike from Carlos Soler breaking the deadlock. A throw from Valencia was picked up by Gameiro, who laid the ball inside for Yunus Musah. The young midfielder carried the ball across the area before using midfield partner Soler. The 24 year old played a quick one-two with De La Cruz, who had his back to goal, before unleashing another 30 yard drive beyond the keeper, his 3rd of the season and an almost carbon copy of his goal against Alavés last weekend.

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Soler: Another long range contender from the midfield man


Elche clearly didn’t heed the warning as just 4 minutes later they were nearly undone by a similar move again. This time Gayà on the left hand side, with Maxi Gómez the interlink to Soler, who once again fizzed one in, this time his effort clipping Rigoni on the way through allowing Édgar Badía time to get down low and clutch the ball safely to his chest. At the other end Elche had their first real chance of note just after the half hour mark, a corner from Rigoni finding Guido Carrillo, who headed just over from a tight angle. The hosts then went close again just before the break, a throw-in from Antonio Barragán finding Rigoni in space on the right hand side, his cut back finding midfielder Guti who flashed a shot just wide of the upright from range.

4 minutes after the break the visitors doubled their advantage, a corner from skipper José Gayà, swung in from the right, finding an unmarked Mouctar Diakhaby at the near post to power the header home, the Valencia defender drifting beyond Barragán to claim his 5th goal of the season.

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Diakhaby: Loses Barragán at near post to score his 5th of the season four minutes after break


Just a minute later Elche almost suffered a sucker punch as they fell to a classic counter attack from Valencia, Barragán trying a first time ball into the area from the right hand side, the long punt clear from Diakhaby being flicked on by Maxi Gómez to Kevin Gameiro, who slipped the ball back through to his strike partner. The Uruguayan raced beyond Gonzalo Verdú with the ball, making a great connection with his eventual shot by Édgar Badía doing equally well to tip the effort over the crossbar. 5 minutes later they were punished as Valencia did grab their decisive third goal. Again it was excellent pressing from the visitors, applying the press on Barragán in his own half, Musah picking up eventual possession of the loose ball. Looking wide to Jason, the winger played a one-two with overlapping fullback Antonio Valencia before the ball was returned into the path of Musah, who had continued his run forward. This time the American midfielder opted to chip a ball into the area, and when Maxi Gómez and Verdú went up for the ball, it broke to Kevin Gameiro who was quick to swivel on the half volley and fire beyond Édgar Badía for his 23rd goal of the season.

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Gameiro: Quickest to pounce on loose ball to claim 23rd of season


Elche almost nicked a consolation goal at the end, a De La Cruz through ball being cut out by Luismi, Cifu then laying back to keeper Édgar Badía who opted for a long punt forward. Former Southampton man Carrillo got up above everyone else to flick on to Fidel Chaves, the former Las Palmas man finding himself in space on the left and carrying the ball into the area before firing an effort low towards the near post, stand in Valencia keeper Jaume Doménech doing superbly well to get down and tip the ball around the post to keep his clean sheet in tact.

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Diakhaby: Impressive at both ends of the pitch in comfortable win
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Week 21 in review

An impressive Sevilla performance on Friday evening got things underway in the latest round of fixtures, as they swept aside struggling Eibar in a very convincing 3-0 win, which sees them move up a spot to 9th in the table. Luuk De Jong opened the scoring after half an hour, with a double from the former Liverpool and Milan striker Suso in the second half compounding the damage for the hosts, who found themselves back at the foot of the table at the end of the weekend.

The Sunday noon game saw Real Madrid, currently second in the table, unable to find a way past a resolute Villarreal defence in a 0-0 draw, 2 crucial points dropped which put a further dent in their hopes to retain the title, although they remain second after Barcelona once again slipped up, this time crashing to a 1-0 defeat away to Real Betis, Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho scoring 7 minutes from time to condemn Barca to their fifth defeat of the season.

There was another 0-0 in the early evening clash between Alavés and Real Sociedad, both sides remaining unchanged in the league table as a result. The Valentines’ day massacre undoubtedly came at the Metropolitano Stadium, where hosts Atlético Madrid picked apart Huesca 6-1, a double from Koke among the goals, while Athletic Bilbao were also among the goals with a 3-0 win at home against Getafe, who were reduced to 10 men. Atlético remain 3rd while Bilboa remain 5th, both sides looking to secure European football for next season. There was nothing to separate Osasuna and Valladolid who played out a 1-1 draw, while honours were also shared as Levante met Cadiz in another 6 pointer, a thrilling 3-3 draw the outcome with a goal for both sides coming in stoppage time, Fali thinking he’d nicked a crucial 3 points for the visitors before an ever later reply from Sebastián Villa ensured a share of the spoils.

The final game Sunday evening saw a slender away win for Granada, claiming a 1-0 victory against Celta Vigo, before Valencia took advantage of both Barcelona and Real Madrid dropping points with their impressive 3-0 victory away to Elche on Monday evening.

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Valencia cruise to victory in top v bottom

Valencia returned to their impressive best as they swept aside Eibar 4-1 on Sunday evening, a result which sees Los Che remain top of the table while Eibar now find themselves at the foot of the league. With the games coming thick and fast for Valencia, Barlow again made several changes to the starting line-up, with Eliaquim Mangala, Daniel Wass and Denis Cheryshev being brought into the starting XI, Gabriel Paulista, Yunus Musah and Nicolás De La Cruz making way. There were also returns to the bench for Toni Lato and Jasper Cillessen, after injury and illness respectively.

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It was an eventful start at La Mestalla, with the hosts taking the lead after just 14 seconds. Straight from kick-off, Gameiro laid the ball back to the returning Daniel Wass in midfield, who in turn used Valencia on the right. The full-back played a chipped ball into the feet of Carlos Soler, who drove forward at the Eibar back line threatening to unleash another long range effort to follow up his strikes in recent weeks, but instead this time opting to slip the ball into the path of Maxi Gómez, who peeled off the shoulder of Esteban Burgos to fire home first time with his left foot at the near post of Marko Dmitrovic.

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Maxi Gómez: Off the mark just 14 seconds in


Far from letting their heads drop, struggling Eibar immediately hauled themselves level. The ball was worked out wide to Damian Kądzior, the Polish winger playing a superb first time through ball into the path of former Middlesbrough man Kike, the 31 year old making no mistake to slot the ball beyond Jaume Doménech, his 13th goal of the season, and all this inside the opening 2 minutes of the encounter.

The fast paced start continued as Valencia found themselves back in front with just 10 minutes on the clock. An inswinging free-kick from deep by José Gayà was originally headed clear by Anaitz Arbilla, but goal scorer Maxi Gómez did well to win the ball back. He in turn found wide man Denis Cheryshev, who cut the ball back inside for the impressive Soler to provide another incisive pass. This time the midfielder chipped one forward for Kevin Gameiro to run on to, the Frenchman taking the ball down on his chest inside the area before having time to pick his spot beyond Dmitrovic.

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Gameiro: Explosive start sees Valencia 2-1 up inside the opening 10 minutes


It almost got worse for the visitors midway through the opening half, as a rash challenge saw the hosts awarded a spot kick. A throw-in from Wass on the right was picked up by Gameiro, who turned Arbilla before knocking the ball back to Antonio Valencia, who broke into the box before tumbling under the challenge of Arbilla, referee Soto Grado having no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Kevin Gameiro stepped up to take the penalty, but saw Serbian keeper Marko Dmitrovic guess right and get down well to deny the striker his second of the game.

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Gameiro: The impressive Marko Dmitrovic guesses right to deny the striker


Valencia went close just before the break, Mangala getting up well to win the ball back from a free-kick to find José Gayà, the captain surging forward before cutting the ball inside to Daniel Wass, whose first time effort flashed just wide of the upright. A minute after the break, the home side went close again. Mangala was again involved, this time finding Carlos Soler with a free kick. The ball was then worked to Wass who again tried his luck, this time his shot charged down by Inui. Wass regained possession to find Soler, who in turn used Cheryshev on the left, the Russian wide man also seeing his shot blocked, before the loose ball broke to Soler, his effort finding a way through but being well held by Marko Dmitrovic.

Just inside the hour Kevin Gameiro was then guilty of another miss. A Josa Gayo corner was originally claimed by Dmitrovic, but his kick upfield was immediately fired back forward, Cheryshev laying wide to Gameiro, who cut back across the area before finding Soler. The 24 year old picked out midfield partner Wass, who spotted the run of Gameiro and played a perfect pass into the path of the forward inside the area, the former PSG and Sevilla man somehow dragging his shot wide when he looked more likely to score.

Any nerves, although the hosts were clearly dominant, were finally settled in the 79th minute as Valencia grabbed a third. Although Musah saw his effort blocked, Gayà did superbly well to outpace Pozo and win back possession, before finding substitute winger De La Cruz on the left. A nice piece of interplay between De La Cruz, Wass and Musah eventually saw the ball return to the wide man, this time in a pocket of space where he took a touch before knocking through Maxi Gómez, the Uruguayan breaking the lines between Korb and Olivera before firing home at the near post, although for once Dmitrovic should perhaps have done better.

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Maxi Gómez: Breaks lines to grab his second of the game


The victory was assured in stoppage time with arguably the goal of the game. Mangala won the ball at the back as Eibar continued to press, picking out Wass, who was a willing runner as he drove beyond Diop with the ball. The Eibar midfielder eventually got in a recovery tackle, but Antonio Valencia was on hand to pick up the loose ball and lay on to substitute Lee Kang-In. The Young Asian player of the year cut inside before curling in a superb long range effort from 25 yards out, giving Dmitrovic no chance, and putting a deserved gloss on the result in a match in which Valencia were dominant despite being immediately pegged back in the opening minutes.

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Kang-In: Bends one in from 25 yards to ensure victory


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Carlos Soler: Man of the match performance pulling strings in middle of park
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Week 22 in review

Athletic Bilbao took advantage of Barcelona and Atlético Madrid not being in action this weekend, as they kicked off the latest round of fixtures on Friday evening with a convincing 3-0 win against Huesca, the victory seeing them leapfrog both into 3rd place in the league, albeit having now played a game more. Bilbao were 2-0 up at the break against the relegation threatened side, Asier Villalibre striking twice in the opening period, before Iñaki Williams completed the rout 3 minutes into the second half.

Granada registered a 1-0 win in the early kick-off on Sunday, inflicting a seventh defeat of the season to Alavés, although the result sees both sides as they were in terms of league positions at the start of the weekend. Cádiz continue to hover just above the relegation zone, as they suffered another defeat, this time visitors Villarreal scoring twice in the last 13 minutes to secure a 2-0 win at the Estadio Ramón de Carranza. The points were shared as Getafe hosted Real Betis, all four goals in the 2-2 draw coming in the first half where hosts Getafe had raced into a 2-0 lead before being pegged back. Real Madrid remain 8 points behind leaders Valencia after they won 2-1 against Celta Vigo, with experienced striker Karim Benzema grabbing both goals for the current holders, with Valencia putting in their impressive 4-1 win against Eibar which saw the visitors drop back to the foot of the table. Valladolid and Elche played out a 0-0 draw, while the final game of the evening saw Real Sociedad maintain the pressure in their race for European qualification with a 3-0 win against struggling Levante.

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The final game of the weekend took place at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán where a last minute goal from Argentina attacking midfielder Franco Vázquez saw hosts Sevilla claim all 3 points in a 1-0 win against Osasuna.
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Valencia suffer injury blow in narrow victory

Valencia were dealt a massive blow on Sunday evening despite winning the game against Celta Vigo, as they lost Kevin Gameiro just 8 minutes in to what looked like quite a serious hip injury. Pre-game, Valencia had already tried to make several changes as players were becoming jaded due to the incessant fixture list. With Mouctar Diakhaby suspended after an accumulation of bookings, Eliaquim Mangala started at the back alongside Gabriel Paulista, who is just one booking away from suspension himself. There were also further changes with José Gayà, Carlos Soler, Denis Cheryshev and Maxi Gómez all rested, Toni Lato, Yunus Musah, Nicolás De La Cruz and Joshua Zirkzee the ones coming in.

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Just 8 minutes into the game Kevin Gameiro fell heavily, indicating immediately he needed replacing, leaving Barlow with no option but to throw on Maxi Gómez, who was originally planned to be rested. Minutes later the visitors almost took the lead, with Lucas Olazo playing a superb ball into the path of Nolito, who took a touch before being denied by a superb last ditch tackle by former Manchester City colleague Eliaquim Mangala, the danger eventually being cleared much to the relief of the home side. It proved to be the only chance of note in the first half of what was a cagey affair.

3 minutes after the break former Manchester City man Nolito was again the danger man, this time Ander Guevara lofting one over the top for the wide man to run on to, this time getting his shot away but a superb save by Jaume Doménech pushing the ball wide for a corner. The 30 year old shot stopper was called on again 2 minutes later, this time after a superb one-two between Iago Aspas and Santi Mina saw the former Liverpool man in space, Doménech this time tipping wide of his other post as he kept his side in it. 56 minutes in Doménech completed his hat-trick of saves, this time again to deny Nolito, who could have easily had a hat-trick another day as he continued to find space drifting in from the left.

The deadlock was finally broken just after the hour mark, and it could be argued slightly against the run of play as it was Valencia who took the lead. A free kick from Nicolás De La Cruz was superbly whipped into the area, and young midfielder Yunus Musah did well to lose his marker and get up above the Celta Vigo defence to head back across goal, Rubén Blanco having no real chance to react.

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Musah: Midfielder gets up above everyone to head hosts in front


Valencia almost snatched a second with 10 minutes to go. It was another De La Cruz set piece, this time from a corner, that caused confusion in the Celta Vigo box, keeper Rubén Blanco fumbling the cross and with Mangala, who had ventured up for the corner, looking to smash the loose ball home, Vigo striker Iago Aspas did superbly well to block the effort and clear the danger when a goal looked the more likely outcome. Vigo then hit the woodwork with 2 minutes to go as they looked to rescue a deserved point, this time an Emre Mor corner being met by Néstor Araujo but the crossbar coming to the rescue of the hosts before a half-clearance from Gabriel Paulista was then dealt with more convincingly by his centre half partner Mangala.

As the game fell deep into injury time, Valencia almost snatched a last gasp second, and perhaps should have done. Stand in left back Toni Lato broke down the wing, finding space as Vigo were committed forward, and his initial cross found returning winger Gonçalo Guedes, making his first comeback appearance since injury. The Portuguese wide man, who had come on as substitute in the 71st minute, took a touch before laying off for Lato, who had drifted into the area, but the young full back failed to hit his shot with any real conviction, allowing Rubén Blanco the chance to get down low to safely gather the ball. After the match it was confirmed Kevin Gameiro would be sent to see a specialist, with the top scorer expected to be out for the rest of the season, a bitter blow for the league leaders as they look to secure European qualification and are still in the hunt for more silverware. Valencia announced, as a result, they had taken the decision to recall youngster Andrés García from his loan at Melilla, where he had featured just once, the 17 year old potentially set to be involved with the first team for the rest of the season, with Sturridge unavailable due to his registration with the “B” team.

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Doménech: Valencia shot stopper earns man of match for keeping Vigo at bay
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Week 23 in review

Friday night saw Real Betis move up a spot to within just a point of Athletic Bilbao in the European qualification spots as they overcame the Basque side 1-0 at San Mamés, thanks to a solitary goal just before the hour mark from Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho.

There was a stalemate in the opening game on Sunday afternoon, as nothing separated Valladolid and Granada in the noon kick off, before goals a plenty in the following game, as Getafe and Real Sociedad played out a 3-3 draw, the visitors dropping a place as a result. It proved to be a very eventful game at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, with the visitors going 2-0 up before Getafe pulled one back inside the final 10 minutes. The visitors then grabbed a 3rd before being reduced to 10 men as right-back Joseba Zaldua, who used to play for nearby Leganés, saw a straight red. The dismissal allowed Getafe the chance to get back into the game, and 2 injury time goals from striker Ángel Rodríguez saw them snatch a point.

Sevilla made light work of struggling Cadiz, as they cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory against the side who sit just 2 of the bottom in the relegation places. Another team struggling at the wrong side of the table, Alavés, will have been pleased to have taken a surprise point in their visit to the capital to face Atlético Madrid, a last minute goal from Deyverson for the visitors giving them a third draw in the last 5 as they look to pull away from the relegation battle. A solitary goal from Antoine Griezmann gave Barcelona a 1-0 win on the road against Elche, a win which saw them reclaim 3rd spot from Atlético. Eibar climbed back off the foot of the table as they registered a surprise 2-0 win at home against Villarreal, who had been doing well in 9th spot, both goals coming from Kike who now has 15 for the season at the struggling club.

As well as Valencia claiming their 1-0 victory against Celta Vigo, second placed Real Madrid ensured they kept up the pressure in the title race thanks to a late strike from Ferland Mendy to claim a 2-1 win away at Osasuna, with the visitors having an early lead before being pegged back just before the break. The current champions currently sit 8 points behind Valencia. The final game, on Monday evening, was another thriller as Huesca pulled out of the relegation zone with a 4-3 win against Levante, a result which sees the Valencia club back at the foot of the table. Visitors Levante thought they had rescued a point thanks to a 91st minute goal from Gonzalo Melero, his second of the game against his former club, but deep in stoppage time former Everton man Sandro grabbed his 10th league goal of the season to take all 3 points, a vital win for the hosts.

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Guedes returns in another tight victory

Valencia registered their second successive 1-0 victory on the road, this time as they faced mid table Granada, as they secured another valuable 3 points in their challenge for the title. The league leaders, currently 8 points clear, were once again forced into changes for this game, with Kevin Gameiro suffering a long term hip injury last time out, so Barlow opting to had Gonçalo Guedes, his first start since his own injury problems, a role up front alongside Maxi Gómez. Also returning was goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, the usual first choice back to full fitness after illness, while understudy Jaume Doménech, who had done reasonably well in his absence, was fit enough to take the bench after a recent bout of flu. Also back was Diakhaby after his recent suspension, while skipper José Gayà also returned after his recent rest.

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The opening quarter of an hour saw few chances of note, the only highlight being both sides picking up a booking. However, just inside 20 minutes the visitors made a breakthrough, a move starting with a free-kick from Antonio Valencia just inside the Granada half. Valencia picked out Musah, and after a series of passes the ball was worked out to skipper José Gayà down the left hand side. The full back did superbly well to beat both Antonio Puertas and Víctor Díaz, finding himself the time and space to pick out Nicolás De La Cruz in the box. The winger, who had himself lost his marker Nehuén Pérez, took a touch before firing low and hard into the bottom corner beyond the outstretched reach of Rui Silva in the Granada goal, a fine finish for his 3rd goal since his arrival back in January.

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De La Cruz: Space in the area to fire low and hard beyond Rui Silva


Valencia continued to press and almost doubled their advantage inside the half hour, but for some fine goalkeeping by Rui Silva. The hosts were pegged inside their own half from a throw-in on the right, Antonio Valencia nicking the ball back and working it out to goal scorer De La Cruz on the left with the assistance of Wass in the middle. The winger made a driving run forward down the left hand side, eventually knocking back for Gayà who was providing support on the overlap, this time the skipper picking out Wass on the edge of the box in an almost repeat pass of the first goal. The Danish utility man hit one high towards the corner, but Rui Silva did superbly well to get up and push the effort away, before Dimitri Foulquier then cleared the danger.

The hosts had the keeper to thank again 7 minutes into the second half as he once again denied Valencia a second goal. Right midfielder Jason picked up the ball 30 yards out on the right, opting to use fellow winger De La Cruz, this time the left winger opting for a clever flicked header into the path of Maxi Gómez, who held the ball up inside the area before feeding it out to Gayà, who was again in space on the left hand side. The Valencia captain this time opted to go himself, outpacing Víctor Díaz before firing one across goal, which Rui Silva did superbly well to get down and hold.

At the death, with Granada still searching for an equaliser, Valencia almost delivered another perfect counter punch, but for some more last ditch defending. A throw-in from Víctor Díaz this time was initially cleared by Antonio Valencia, before pressure on Herrera allowed substitute Denis Cheryshev in to take the ball off the feet of Luis Milla. Fellow substitute Uros Racic then sprung Maxi Gómez free down the left hand side, the striker doing well to turn Nehuén Pérez and bare down on goal. With Rui Silva rushing out, the Uruguayan opted for an audacious chip, which was goal bound but for a superb piece of defending by Domingos Duarte, who refused to give up the chase back and was able to head clear off the line. It proved to be the last chance of note as Jason opted to hold the ball in the corner to help the visitors hold on for another valuable win in their quest for success.

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Domingos Duarte: Superb last ditch header clear to deny Valencia a second


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Gayà: True leaders performance from Valencia captain
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Takeover talks resurface at league leaders

Cash strapped Valencia once again find themselves amidst talk of a takeover, as news emerged that Chinese businessman Zhao Haoran, who originally tried to buy the club back in October, was once again set to make an offer for the league leaders. The Chinese property magnate had originally tabled an offer thought to be worth around £270 million for the club, with Peter Lim unable to agree a deal, although it is thought this time round the deal is likely to be somewhat less, with debts mounting and any work on the new stadium still no further along.

The club, around £200 million in debt at latest projections, recently announced a reduction in transfer revenue, meaning any player sales will be swallowed up by the running costs of the club rather than re-investment in replacements, a bitter blow for manager Sie Barlow, who is enjoying a massively impressive start to his career as a manager. This latest round of talks with potential new investors means the club will also now once again face a transfer embargo, although this is likely to have far less impact than last time when it fell during an active transfer window.

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Zhao Haoran: Chinese billionaire back in for Los Che?


Despite the off-field woes, the club have continued to exceed all expectations on the pitch, currently finding themselves shock leaders of La Liga sitting 8 points clear of current title holders and favourites to retain the title, Real Madrid, while unrest at Barcelona this season has seen them struggle to maintain any real challenge, and they currently find themselves 5 points further afield in 3rd place. Los Che have also enjoyed some silverware already, with an extremely impressive win in the Spanish Super Cup tournament in Saudi Arabia, where they overcame Atlético Madrid in the semi-finals before beating Barcelona, the same team they defeated in the Copa Del Rey final to qualify for the Super Cup, 2-1 in the final.

They still retain some hope of retaining the Copa Del Rey too, although they currently find themselves 1-0 down after the first leg of the semi-final, with the return match against Atlético Madrid to come this weekend. In the league, however, they are unbeaten in 18 since defeat at the Camp Nou back in October, and have also won their last 4 games in La Liga, as they start to believe they could defy the odds (they were 25/1 at the start of the season) and win the title for the first time since 2004.

Owner Peter Lim and star manager Sie Barlow have always seemed to enjoy a functional relationship, at least that is how it is portrayed to the media, so it is unsure just how much this latest potential takeover will affect their day to day operations, but the fans have made it clear for some time they would like to see Peter Lim, a man they see as now holding the club back despite originally being seen as a savour, sell the club to someone willing to invest further in their growth and development rather than selling to survive.

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Peter Lim: Could the current owner finally agree to sale of the club?
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Week 24 in review

It was a real six pointer to kick things off in the latest round of fixtures as 18th placed Cadiz hosted 17th place Huesca in the Friday evening clash. Unsurprisingly, there was nothing really to separate the two, who began and remain 1 point apart after a 1-1 draw, Álvaro Negredo giving the hosts the lead from the spot before Rafa Mir pulled the visitors level 15 minutes later.

With Valencia playing, and winning, at Granada on Saturday night, it was down to the chasing pact to try and retain momentum on Sunday, with Atlético Madrid involved in the early kick off, where they drew 3-3 away at Celta Vigo, coming back from 3-1 down with a double from Saúl Ñíguez rescuing a point which sees them retain 4th in the table and the final Champions League qualification spot. Barcelona, one spot above them, were next in action and they needed a goal deep into stoppage time from former Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic to claim all 3 points against a spirited Getafe, who had taken a shock 2-0 lead at the Camp Nou before a fightback from the hosts.

It was a less nervy affair for the hosts at the Anoeta as Real Sociedad chalked up a memorable 3-0 win in the Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao, a result which sees them leapfrog their neighbours into the Europa League spot, both sides now sitting on 42 points, former Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj having a good game as he scored twice in the derbi Vasco. Elsewhere in the Basque country, there were goals a plenty at the Mendizorroza as Alavés and Sevilla played out a 3-3 draw, another late goal, this time for the hosts from former Arsenal and West Ham man Lucas Pérez, his second of the game, rescuing a point.

It was all square as Real Betis, who join Sociedad and Bilbao on 42 points, drew 1-1 with Valladolid. Meanwhile, Levante once again moved off the bottom as they won 2-0 against Osasuna, who now sit 11th in the table after flirting with the European spots earlier in the season. Current champions Real Madrid ensured they maintained the pressure in their bid to reclaim the title with a 3-1 win at the Bernabéu against Eibar, a result which sees the visitors back at the foot of the table. Eibar had taken a 1-0 lead just 3 minutes in, but a penalty early in the second half allowed the hosts back into the game before they went on to claim another victory.

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The final game came on Monday evening, and it was another stalemate, poetically a 1-1 draw just like the opening game of the weekend, that rounded of week 24. Visitors Elche took a 1-0 lead 9 minutes in through Guido Carrillo, before former Valencia, Real Madrid and Napoli defender Raul Albiol pulled hosts Villarreal level 6 minutes from time, both sides maintaining league position as a result.
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Valencia in final after super comeback

Current Copa Del Rey holders Valencia ensured their place in a second successive final after a fantastic team performance saw them overturn a first leg deficit to overthrow Atlético Madrid and secure a place in the final. The holders came into the second leg of the final, delayed due to the progress of Atlético in the Champions’ League, 1-0 down from the first leg following a solitary goal from Héctor Herrera in the first leg, and were dealt a blow in the build up as first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen picked up a knock in training, meaning Jaume Doménech freshly recovered from flu, would once again take up the reins between the posts.

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Hosts Atlético looked to extend their advantage in the first minute, goalscorer from the first leg Herrera getting up well to win back a Doménech goal kick, before Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix then fed the ball to Yannick Carrasco, but after showing superb control to find the space the Belgian winger dragged his eventual shot wide of the upright, failing to test Doménech. Just 7 minutes later it was the visitors who were to grab the opening goal, pulling themselves level on aggregate, after some fine play. Starting with a José Gayà throw-in on the left hand side, the ball was picked up by Daniel Wass who opted to lay the ball back to Gabriel Paulista on the half way line. In turn the defender then opted to go all the way back to his keeper, Doménech waiting to draw out the press before slipping the ball on to Diakhaby, who played a superb ball out to Jason, who had found some space inside on the right. The winger took a touch before playing a superb chipped pass through to Gonçalo Guedes, who was again playing up front, the Portuguese international providing a superb right footed finish beyond Jan Oblak to give the visitors the lead on the night.

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Guedes: Peels off to side foot home and give Valencia the lead


In a match with few telling chances, Valencia grabbed a vital second with just 20 minutes to go, skipper Gayà again involved, this time from a direct free-kick on the right hand side of the box. The captain opted to shoot, and with Oblak scrambling across his goal at full stretch to keep it out, winger Nicolás De La Cruz was perfectly placed to fire home the rebound into the empty net with the keeper still stranded, showing a superb turn of pace to react quicker than Felipe to latch onto the loose ball before applying the finishing touch, handing Valencia the aggregate lead in the tie.

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De La Cruz: First to pounce after Oblak save to fire into empty net


With hosts Atletica staring defeat in the face, they unsurprisingly opted to push forward, changing formation to have 4 men effectively forward, which in turn prompted Valencia to throw on Eliaquim Mangala for Maxi Gomez and switch to five at the back in an attempt to neutralise the threat and protect the advantage. The home side did get a sniff in the final minute, pressing forward the ball was eventually worked to Marcos Llorente, but he failed to get much purchase on the ball, his tame effort proving to be an easy save for Jaume Domenech, who then held onto the ball before the referee signalled the end of the match and a famous fightback for Valencia.

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De La Cruz: Man of the match performance and winning goal


Los Che, who currently hold the cup by virtue of the covid-affected campaign last season, will now face Real Madrid in the final as they look to win the trophy for the 9th time. Real find themselves in the final courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate win against local rivals Getafe, winning both legs 2-1 with Marcos Asensio and Luka Jovic scoring in the second leg as they came back from a goal behind after just 16 minutes. The final is due to be played next month, ironically at the Metropolitano, scene of the fantastic comeback from Valencia.
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Week 25 in review

 

With Valencia and Atlético Madrid in action in the Copa Del Rey semi-final second leg, it was a reduced schedule of fixtures that got underway on Friday evening as hosts Celta Vigo and visitors Osasuna played out a 1-1 draw at Balaídos. The early evening game Saturday saw Elche move up two places to 10th with an impressive 3-2 win away at Granada, the home side having taken the lead twice in the game before late goals from Victor Campuzano and Fidel Chaves saw Los Franjiverdes leave with all 3 points on the night. The other game of the evening saw Real Madrid remain second with a comfortable 2-0 win at home against local rivals Getafe, the side they recently overcame in the other Copa Del Rey semi-final tie. Luka Jovic was again on the scoresheet against Getafe, with the visitors having to play out the last 30 minutes with 10 men after Damian Suarez was sent off for a second bookable offence.

 

 

3rd placed Barcelona looked back to their best as they swept aside Sevilla 4-1 in the afternoon kick-off on Sunday, a hat-trick from French international Antoine Griezmann and a penalty from Lionel Messi doing the damage before a stoppage time strike from Luuk De Jong restored some pride for the visitors. Barcelona remain 5 points behind Real Madrid in the table after their win. Cadiz, meanwhile, remain firmly rooted in a relegation battle after another defeat, this time falling 2-0 at home at the hands of Valladolid. It was a similar story for Levante who were thumped 5-1 at home by Athletic Bilbao, with all five goals coming from a sensational performance by Iñaki Williams, who now has 13 for the season. The Basque side currently sit 5th in the Europa league qualification spot, on level points with Basque rivals Real Sociedad, who were comfortable 2-0 winners in their game as they hosted Huesca.

 

 

The final game came on Monday evening where bottom club Eibar took the lead after just 5 minutes away to Alavés, courtesy of a goal from Kike, before then being 2-1 down at the break, a double from Luis Rioja turning the game on it’s head. The struggling Basque side thought they’d done enough to snatch a point against their Basque rivals when Kike scored again in the 91st minute, but there was still time for former West Ham man Lucas to grab a winner for the hosts and condemn Eibar to their 18th defeat of the season.

Zeandr
4 years ago
1 day ago
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Massive overcome against Atlético 👏🏻 Congratulations

 

If Lim decides to sell, it will make your job a lot easier, mone-wise (If the new owner happen to keep you, ofc)

 

Amazing job in the league, Champions League qualification seems certain, which can only help

Very ell done so far, mate 😉 #AmuntValencia

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Valencia takeover talks breakdown again

 

Valencia fans were once again left disappointed as news emerged that takeover talks between Zhao Haoran and controversial current owner Peter Lim had once again broken down. The Chinese billionaire had originally looked to takeover the club back in October, although initial offers were too far apart to conclude a deal. Hope was renewed that a deal could perhaps be agreed this time when the rich investor came back in for the club, but it appears this time there has been a failure to satisfy certain documentation which would allow him to take his proposed investment further.

 

 

Despite sitting in a healthy position on the pitch, currently top of La Liga and also recently reaching the Copa Del Rey final after overturning a semi-final first leg deficit, off the pitch the club are in dire financial straits, heavily in debt and still with the shadow of an unfinished and abandoned new stadium project hanging over the club. Although the breakdown of any takeover means any potential transfer embargo has been lifted, the honest truth is the club are not currently really in any position to make any real impact in the market, a fact which is bound to concern the fans, especially as impressive young coach Sie Barlow continues to turn heads with his performances on the pitch. Quite naturally the fans are worried he could be attracted elsewhere if he is continually frustrated in his aims to take the club forward and develop the squad further.

 

The hope is that Haoran, or any other potential investor, will continue to be attracted to the proposition due to the on-field performances, and that ultimately a takeover or at least financial investment can be agreed to help fund the club continue to be competitive in the short to mid-term future. Next up is a trip to face Cadiz at the weekend before an international break and then an extremely congested run of fixtures in April, so any positive news would definitely be welcome.

 

Peter Lim: Takeover talks once again stall
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By Zeandr 11 February 2021 - 23:25 PM UTC 

Massive overcome against Atlético 👏🏻 Congratulations

 

If Lim decides to sell, it will make your job a lot easier, mone-wise (If the new owner happen to keep you, ofc)

 

Amazing job in the league, Champions League qualification seems certain, which can only help

Very ell done so far, mate 😉 #AmuntValencia

 

Thanks, sadly not to be as the talks have broken down again. I dream of a takeover. I have a shortlist and scouting reports that need a takeover :-) Going to be heartbreaking if the squad is ripped apart at the end of the season and I am unable to continue the vision, I remain hopeful, in the meantime I'll just keep trying to win football matches :-) #AmuntValencia 

 

p.s. As a side note, if anyone knows how to get rid of that god awful blue border that has been inflicted upon me with the update, please let me know!!!

Zeandr
4 years ago
1 day ago
101
By siepod 12 February 2021 - 20:00 PM UTC 

Thanks, sadly not to be as the talks have broken down again. I dream of a takeover. I have a shortlist and scouting reports that need a takeover :-) Going to be heartbreaking if the squad is ripped apart at the end of the season and I am unable to continue the vision, I remain hopeful, in the meantime I'll just keep trying to win football matches :-) #AmuntValencia 

 

p.s. As a side note, if anyone knows how to get rid of that god awful blue border that has been inflicted upon me with the update, please let me know!!!

 

That's where the fun in those kind of save is: Seeing every player you developed being sold for a few millions so you have to start over again and again and again, until you've sold so many players that your bank balance turns positive 😂 Then you will see the quids stocking and you will feel hugely proud Hahaha 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
222
Premium

Week 26 in review

 

There was another condensed fixture list on Thursday as just 14 teams squared off in Round 26 of La Liga. Undoubtedly the game of the evening came at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Atlético Madrid, bouncing back from their Copa Del Rey disappointment, tore apart Granada 7-0. The hosts were aided by the fact that Granada found themselves down to 9 men by half-time, with both Kenedy and Yangel Herrera receiving their marching orders in the first period, with Atlético taking a 4-0 lead into the break. Former Porto midfielder Hector Herrera ended the match with 4 goals, with former Spurs defender Kieran Trippier also getting on the scoresheet.

With none of the top 3 in action, just above the Madrid side, Athletic Bilbao remain fourth, although having played 2 games more, courtesy of a 1-0 win against Celta Vigo. Real Betis also remain in the hunt for European qualification following a 2-0 victory away to Osasuna, while Cadiz suffered another defeat, this time on the road against Elche. Alavés climbed up to 13th in the table following a 94th minute winner from Deyverson saw them claim all 3 points away to Getafe, who remain just above the relegation zone. Another team who continue to hover in and around relegation are Huesca, who were beaten 2-0 by Villarreal, on-loan Valencia attacker Manu Vallejo again on the scoresheet. Levante picked up what could be a valuable point, albeit they remain in the bottom 3, with a 0-0 draw away to Valladolid.

 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
222
Premium

League leaders need injury time winner against struggling Cadiz

 

Top of the table Valencia made extremely difficult work of their trip to Cadiz last night, as they needed a goal deep into stoppage time to ensure all 3 points against a side who came into the game having lost 5 of their previous 6 games. Visitors Valencia welcomed back Jasper Cillessen in goal, while Barlow also opted to rest the recently returned Gonçalo Guedes and veteran defender Antonio Valencia for the clash, Joshua Zirkzee and Thierry Correia also coming into the starting XI.

 

 

 

Unsurprisingly the league leaders dominated the first half, enjoying more of the ball and also creating plenty of opportunities, although they will be no doubt disappointed that only one of those was on target. The hosts, meanwhile, were clearly set up to frustrate Valencia rather than display any attacking ambition of their own, failing to muster up a single shot in the opening period, with the only incident of note seeing centre-half Cala pick up a booking for an over-exuberant challenge.

 

The second half started in a similar vein, Valencia dominating the ball as they tried to break down the resolute hosts. 11 minutes after the restart the league leaders were dealt a blow when they lost captain José Gayà, the full back coming off with what appeared to be an ankle injury, Toni Lato been sent on to replace him. There were also appearances from the bench for Carlos Soler and Eliaquim Mangala, as the visitors looked to freshen things up in the encounter.

 

With shared points looking the most likely outcome, another period of sustained Valencia pressure eventually led to a breakthrough in stoppage time. Launching wave after wave of attack, as Maxi Gómez went down heavily and failed to get up, but the referee ignoring any potential incident, the visitors continued to press forward, sending the ball wide to substitute Toni Lato. The 23 year old, making his 5th La Liga appearance from the bench, did well to beat former Liverpool man Bobby Adekanye down the left hand side before fizzing in a wonderful ball towards the far post. Quickest to react in the middle was Danish international Daniel Wass, the utility man playing in central midfield, latching onto the cross to fire home into the bottom corner beyond Jeremias Ledesma to steal all 3 points.

 

Wass: Stoppage time drama as midfielder grabs winner

It was the first goal of the season for former Celta Vigo regular Wass, and came at a vital time to enable Los Che to record their 5th straight win in the competition, maintaining a 7 point advantage over current holders Real Madrid, with a valuable game in hand. After the game it was confirmed that skipper José Gayà had suffered a twisted ankle, an injury which is set to keep him sidelined for the next 3-6 weeks, a bitter blow to Valencia in the push for their first title since 2004.

 

Wass: Late late goal and man of the match performance from the Dane

 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
222
Premium

Week 27 in review

 

The latest round of fixtures began on Friday night as second placed Real Madrid dropped more points in their quest to retain the title, as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Real Sociedad. Hosts Sociedad took the lead 15 minutes in, through the impressive Alexander Isak who now has 20 goals for the season, before Real Madrid grabbed an equaliser 9 minutes after the break, midfielder Isco with the goal. The result saw Madrid temporarily move within 4 points of Valencia, having played 2 games more.

 

There were also plenty of shocks on Sunday, most notably starting with the noon kick-off, where struggling Getafe ran out surprise 3-1 winners against Sevilla, a result which sees the hosts now sit 4 points clear of the relegation places, a double from on-loan Watford striker Juan Hernandez giving Getafe a 2-0 lead after just 10 minutes. Another on loan striker, this time Valencia man Manu Vallejo, was again on target as his side Villarreal came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Real Betis. There was another shock at the Estadi Ciutat de València as Levante climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time since November following an impressive 3-1 victory against Elche.

 

Atlético Madrid climbed back above Athletic Bilbao as they beat the Basque outfit 2-0 at the Metropolitano, while Barcelona remained above them in 3rd as they brushed aside Eibar 4-1, the visitors finding themselves with an uphill struggle after being reduced to 10 men after just 26 minutes. Eibar are currently 2 points adrift at the foot of the table, and favourites to go down with just 4 wins so far this season. Fellow relegation candidates Huesca also fell to another defeat, Deyverson with another late goal for Alavés condemning the visitors to a 1-0 defeat.

 

Granada moved back up 1 place to 11th with a 3-1 win at home against Osasuna, having a 3-0 advantage before the visitors pulled one back late on, while there was nothing to split Valladolid and Celta Vigo as they played out a 0-0 draw in the final fixture of the weekend.

 

 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
222
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International round-up (Part 7)

 

It was a dream return to International football for Portuguese winger Gonçalo Guedes as he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over Scotland in ta World Cup qualification game in Lisbon. The 24 year old, making his 26th appearance for his country, had only recently returned for club side Valencia following a knee injury suffered back in January, so he was delighted to start leading the line for his national team, the same position he has filled at the Mestalla in recent weeks. Both goals for Guedes came in the first half, before he was eventually substituted with 15 minutes remaining.

 

Another among the goals this international window as midfielder Yunus Musah. The American international grabbed his first ever goal for the US Men’s National team in a 2-0 win over Honduras, grabbing the opener before Christian Pulisic confirmed the victory late on. Fellow midfielder Carlos Soler made his debut for Spain in a 3-0 win over Luxembourg, the 24 year old midfielder being handed the start for his first ever cap.

 

On loan Joshua Zirkzee was another winner as he scored in a 3-1 win for the Netherlands Under-21’s against Albania, while Lee Kang-In featured in a 3-0 win against Myanmar, although he failed to find the target for his country. Valencia youngsters featured heavily once more for the Spanish Under-21’s, who drew 1-1 with their Belgian counterparts, with Jesús Vázquez the stand out performer of the youngsters, while in the Under-19’s Martin Tejón had a great game in a 3-0 win over Slovakia, setting up 2 of the 3 goals for his side. Finally, recent arrival Nicolás De La Cruz also had a stand out performance in a 1-1 draw with Chile.

 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
222
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International round-up (Part 8)

 

Antonio Valencia had plenty to smile about as he came up against team-mates Maxi Gómez and Nicolás De La Cruz on Saturday as Ecuador hosted Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier. The hosts ran out 2-1 winners despite originally falling behind, with Valencia on target from the penalty spot to pull his country level before a late late goal ensured victory. Valencia played the full game in the win, while De La Cruz started and played the first 55 minutes, coming off just after Valencia’s equaliser, while Gómez was thrown on for the last half hour in the defeat.

 

Valencia: Pulls his country level against team-mates Gómez and De La Cruz

Lee Kang-In again started for Korea Under-23’s, this time in a 2-0 victory against Indonesia, playing the first hour and having a solid game in the win, including an assist. Portugal had an easy time of it in Andorra as they ran out comfortable 6-0 winners, with Gonçalo Guedes coming off the bench in this one, featuring for the last 30 minutes in the match which saw Atlético Madrid striker Joao Félix grabbing a hat-trick. Carlos Soler also won his second cap for Spain, claiming an assist to boot, as they won 3-0 against Azerbaijan to maintain their perfect start in their World Cup qualification game, winning the game by the same scoreline as their opening fixture against Luxembourg.

 

Finally, there was once again a strong presence in the Spanish Under-21’s, a 0-0 draw against England with a back four featuring three from Valencia, with Ivan Muñoz and Hugo Guillamón partnering at the back, and Joseda tucking in at right back. Fran Pérez and Jesús Vázquez once again also featured.

 

 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
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International round-up (Part 9)

 

Gonçalo Guedes once again came off the bench for Portugal in their final World Cup qualifier of this latest round of fixtures, grabbing a vital assist for Borussia Dortmund full-back Raphael Guerreiro to hand Portugal a 1-0 win against a very solid Montenegro. The goal, just after the hour mark, means Portugal have won all 3 of their qualification games without conceding, Guedes featuring in all 3 before his return to Spain. There was less joy for Carlos Soler, substituted after an hour while winning his 3rd cap as Spain suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Ireland, Patrick Bamford and Shane Duffy giving Ireland the surprising win.

 

Guedes: Successful international break for the Portuguese star

 

There was less action for Denis Cheryshev, who managed just 10 minutes off the bench at the end of a 1-0 victory against Romania, his first action during the international break, as he was an unused substitute in the win against Israel and defeat to Belgium. That was also the case for Daniel Wass, although he got slightly longer, getting 23 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Norway after being unused in the first 2 games. Martin Tejón came off the bench again in another victory for the Spanish Under-19s, this time comfortably beating Andorra 3-0, all 3 goals coming from Barcelona youngsters.

 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
222
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Valencia get better of Atlético again

 

League leaders Valencia took a massive step towards a potential shock title win with a hard fought 1-0 win against Atlético Madid in La Liga this weekend. It was the 5th time the two sides have met this season, with Valencia having the better of things previously with 2 wins and a draw, losing just once in the Copa Del Rey semi-final although they overturned the deficit in the second leg. Valencia were still without long term absentee Kevin Gameiro to face his former club, while skipper José Gayà also missed out after failing to recover from a twisted ankle. Atlético had Felipe missing but they were able to welcome back former Manchester City defender Stefan Savic after a calf injury.

 

 

Atlético, 4th in the league coming into the game, needed to be alert as early as the fourth minute as the hosts looked to sneak an early lead. A long build up involving Musah and Soler in the middle, Wass on the right and Thierry Correia on the left eventually saw the Portuguese full-back, in for the injured José Gayà, slip in Joshua Zirkzee. The striker took a touch, allowing Berat Djimsiti to make the tackle, and when the loose ball broke to Maxi Gómez, Stefan Savic had to react quickly to block his effort well before the ball was eventually cleared. The visitors then had a chance themselves 18 minutes in. A throw in down the left from Sime Vrsaljko found Saúl, who worked the ball between himself, Koke and Llorente in the middle before finding the run of Diego Costa. The experienced striker played a quick one-two with fellow front man Joao Félix before eventually dragging his effort wide of the upright, with Cillessen rushing out to close down the former Chelsea man.

 

Valencia broke the deadlock just before half-time, with all eyes on Atlético keeper Jan Oblak who could have perhaps done better to keep out the hosts. A goal kick from the Atlético shot stopper was won in the air by Musah, who used fellow midfielder Carlos Soler. A searching ball for Zirkzee was initially cleared, but Gabriel picked back up the ball, using Correia who opted to lay all the way back to Cillessen. The Valencia keeper played a short one to Diakhaby, who then played through Soler and Musah, the ball switched wide to Wass on the overlap down the right. The Danish international cut the ball back into midfield, with Musah and Soler again involved, the latter picking out Maxi Gómez in space left of the goal. The Uruguayan striker wound up and fired one in from an acute angle, and despite getting a hand to it, Oblak could only watch on as the ball hit the post and rolled into the empty net.

 

Maxi Gómez: Atlético keeper should have done better from tight angle

Taking a 1-0 advantage into the break was always going to favour Valencia, who have the joint best defensive record in the division, having conceded just 18 goals so far, and the uphill task for the visitors was made even worse when they were reduced to 10 men before the hour mark. Midfielder Saúl Ñíguez, just minutes after picking up a booking for a foul on winger Nicolás De La Cruz, inexplicably handled the ball when he went up for a challenge with Gabriel, giving referee Xavier Estrada Fernández no choice but to brandish a second yellow, the first red he has shown this season.

 

Saúl Ñíguez: Needless handball gave referee no choice but to dismiss him

Unsurprisingly the hosts, with the man advantage, dominated possession for the final 30 minutes, although they failed to create any more real chances of note, despite managing a total of 8 shots on target, while the visitors picked up a further 3 bookings as the game threatened to spill over, while also failing to register a single shot on target themselves as they slumped to their fourth defeat of the season, which sees them sit just 2 points ahead of Athletic Bilbao in the final champions league spot now, although they do have a game in hand at present, but could slip to 5th if Bilbao win tomorrow. Valencia, meanwhile, return to 7 points clear at the top with the fans finally starting to believe this could be their year.

 

Maxi Gómez: Match winner and man of the match for Uruguayan striker

 

siepod
6 years ago
5 hours ago
222
Premium

Week 28 in review

 

Real Madrid maintained the pressure on Valencia as they got the latest round of fixtures underway with a 2-1 win at home against Granada on Friday night. Despite being 1-0 down after 7 minutes, the current champions came back at the Bernabéu thanks to goals from Mariano just before the break, and Luka Jovic in the second half, to secure all 3 points.

 

The main talking point on Saturday was without doubt the shock 2-1 victory for Huesca over Real Betis. The visitors came into this one on a 16 game unbeaten run, while the hosts had only managed 4 wins all season, but 2 goals at the end of the first half ensured the win, which saw them briefly climb outside the relegation zone. Sevilla had no such issues as they brushed aside Valladolid 4-0, with Suso grabbing a brace. There was another brace for in-form Alexander Isak also, but his double was only worthy of a point in a 2-2 draw on the road at Osasuna. The final game on Saturday evening saw Barcelona drop more points in their chase for the title, as they were held to a 0-0 draw away at Villarreal, who ended the game with 10 men after former Arsenal and Valencia man Francis Coquelin was dismissed with 6 minutes to go.

 

 

There was a distinct lack of goals again in the early kick-off on Sunday, replicating the late game Saturday evening with another 0-0 stalemate, this time Elche and Alavés the sides failing to get the better of each other. The honours were even at Balaídos too, as Nolito rescued a point for hosts Celta Vigo against visiting Getafe. The final game of the evening, after Valencia’s slender 1-0 victory over Atlético Madrid, saw Levante send Huesca back into the relegation zone, despite their impressive victory the previous day, with a 2-0 win at bottom club Eibar.

 

 

The final action came from San Mamés on Monday evening, as hosts Athletic Bilbao climbed back into the Champions’ League qualification spots with a 2-0 win over struggling Cádiz, Iñaki Williams among the scorers for his 14th league goal of the season, Bilbao moving a point back above Atlético Madrid, who have 2 games in hand.

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