Wed, Feb 02, 2011 - Page 20 News List

LFP: Valencia spoil Racing’s party with late equalizer

Reuters and AFP, MADRID and SANTANDER, Spain

Racing Santander’s Ariel Nahuelpan celebrates his goal against Valencia during their game on Monday in Santander, Spain.

Photo: Reuters

Valencia grabbed a late equalizer to draw 1-1 at Racing Santander in La Liga on Monday, putting a damper on the festive atmosphere at the Sardinero following their takeover by an Indian businessman over the weekend.

Ahsan Ali Syed has bought the majority shareholding in the north-coast club and could be seen celebrating in the stands when striker Ariel Nahuelpan nodded them in front after a corner in the 32nd minute.

Racing were seeking their first win this year and had already hit the post earlier on, but Valencia have made a habit of scoring late goals recently and steadily improved in the second half.

Tino Costa leveled 12 minutes from time with a fierce shot into the top corner and the visitors had Ricardo Costa sent off in the 89th minute.

Racing’s Medhi Lacen was also sent off soon after in the frenetic closing stages, but the hosts held on to end a run of five consecutive wins for Valencia.

The visitors strengthened their hold on fourth place and the last Champions League qualification slot with 41 points from 21 games. Racing are 17th with 21 points.

Syed said he dreamed of making the modest Spanish First Division club a world force.

Syed — who made an unsuccessful £300 million (US$480 million) bid to buy English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers earlier this season — added, however, that he was no magician and it would take time for his dreams to become reality.

“I am not a magician,” Syed said. “I would like the team to become not only a household name in Spain, but also on the world stage.”

The draw did not help Santander’s relegation battle, as they now sit three points above the drop zone.

Syed, founder of the Bahrain-based asset manager Western Gulf Advisory, had guaranteed himself a friendly welcome after he announced in almost his first move as owner that tickets for the Valencia match would be free to members of the club.

The Indian is the second foreign businessman to invest in a Spanish club in the past year, as Malaga was bought in May last year by a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdallah Ben Nasser al-Thani.

Santander’s best ever finish in the Spanish Championship was second in the 1930-1931 season.

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