Mon, Nov 07, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Valencia put pressure on Barcelona with home win

AFP, MADRID

Valencia’s forward Roberto Soldado fights for the ball with Levante’s midfielder Xavi Torres, left, in their Spanish league soccer match at the Ciudad de Valencia stadium in Valencia, Spain, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Valencia beat city rivals Levante 2-0 away from home on Saturday evening to go joint-second with Barcelona in La Liga on 24 points and one point behind leaders Real Madrid, ahead of games yessterday.

On Sunday, Real Madrid entertain Osasuna in an unusual midday kick-off and in the evening Barcelona go to an Athletic Bilbao side unbeaten in nine games.

A Javi Venta own-goal and a Tino Costa free-kick were enough for Valencia to edge a typically bruising derby match. The opening goal came on 35 minutes when Costa played in Jordi Alba with a majestic threaded pass, Levante fullback Venta was quick to react, but unlucky when all he could do to avoid a clear scoring opportunity was steer the ball into his own net.

Costa then doubled the away team’s lead with a floating free-kick from distance on 50 minutes that deceived Gustavo Munua in the Levante goal.

To their credit, Levante rallied and created a host of chances and Ivorian Arouna Kone should have pulled one back on 73 minutes when presented with a clear opportunity from close range.

Vicente Guaita remained solid in the Valencia goal and “Los Che” now exchange positions with a rival who had previously never started a local-derby ahead of them.

For Levante, previously surprise leaders of La Liga, it is the second consecutive defeat and after such a good start, perhaps a sign that their objective of survival is the most realistic they can hope for.

In other games on Saturday, Real Betis ended a run of six consecutive defeats, holding Malaga 0-0 in an entertaining Andalusian derby as Sevilla were also held to a goalless draw at Real Mallorca.

Real Betis missed the chance to claim a much-needed victory when striker Ruben Castro’s close range effort proved off target, while in the second period goalkeeper Casto Espinosa did well to keep out a header from Malaga’s Jose Rondon.

However, for Betis the result ended a spiral of six losses and leaves them in 11th position in La Liga as Malaga consolidate their sixth position.

Earlier, Sevilla goalkeeper Javi Varas once again proved the hero for his side in a 0-0 draw under torrential rain in Real Mallorca.

Both sides needed a morale-boosting victory with Sevilla suffering their first defeat of the season 2-1 at home to Granada last weekend as Mallorca were looking for a first win under new coach Joaquin Caparros in a run that now stretches to five matches.

However, it was Varas, the goalkeeper of the moment in Spain after saving a last-minute penalty from Lionel Messi in Barcelona two weeks ago, who proved the man of the match.

The 29-year-old did well to save a first-half effort from Emilio Nsue from distance and proved solid again early in the second period against Chori Castro.

Mallorca offered less attacking options as the game went on and seemed content with a point by the fulltime whistle.

The result leaves Sevilla fifth, a point ahead of Malaga, while Mallorca struggle two points above the relegation zone.

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