Valencia were left kicking themselves at surrendering a two-goal lead as Villarreal stormed back to claim a point in a topsy-turvy 3-3 derby draw at the Mestalla Stadium on Saturday.
Giuseppe Rossi struck a penalty seven minutes from time to rescue a point for Villarreal who came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to end a run of three consecutive defeats.
Valencia stay third, a point behind second-placed Sevilla, but 10 points behind leaders Barcelona who were in action yesterday at bottom side Osasuna.
It all started so well for the hosts who were two goals up after ten minutes through Ruben Baraja and David Villa who now has 14 goals for the season.
Villarreal fought back to level with substitute Fabricio Fuentes scoring on the stroke of half-time before Jose Llorente levelled on 76 minutes.
In a sensational finale, Valencia reclaimed the lead through Edu three minutes later before Rossi equalized with an 83rd minute spot-kick.
Both sides hit the woodwork several times in a wide open game which either side could have won.
“It was a great game with two teams desperate to win it,” Rossi said. “We showed great spirit to get back into the match twice and have to be happy with the point. Now we need to start winning again and climb up the table.”
Villarreal lie sixth, four points behind Valencia, after collecting just two points from the last 15. Earlier, ten-man Sevilla nudged Valencia from second when they defeated Deportivo La Coruna for the second time in a week with a 3-1 victory.
Sevilla showed great resolve, playing one man down for over half the match, to overturn a 1-0 deficit at the Riazor Stadium with Brazilians Luis Fabiano and Renato netting in the second half along with Diego Capel. It was the second meeting in four days for these two teams with Sevilla defeating Deportivo 2-1 on Wednesday in the first leg of their last 16 Spanish Cup match.
Rodolfo Bodipo put Deportivo ahead on 34 minutes and the game swung further in their favor when Enzo Maresca was sent off on 41 minutes for elbowing an opponent. Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez brought on another striker in Frederic Kanoute and it paid off handsomely.
“Kanoute showed what we know he can do with his quality as a footballer and a person,” Jimenez said. “He had a slight tendon injury problem but risked it because the team were struggling with one less player.”
Kanoute set up the 50th minute equalizer for Fabiano, who also scored in the cup, and then set up Renato on 78 minutes. Capel added a third in the dying seconds as Deportivo pushed for an equalizer.