Valencia missed a chance to extend their advantage over fourth-placed Levante UD and they fell further behind leaders Real Madrid and Barcelona when they were held to a scrappy 0-0 draw at Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Sunday.
Victory at Atletico’s Vicente Calderon Stadium would have put Unai Emery’s side seven points clear of Levante after their city rivals drew 1-1 at home to Real Racing Club de Santander on Saturday.
They managed to check Atletico’s resurgence under new coach Diego Simeone, but ultimately appeared happy to settle for a point — their third draw in a row — with tomorrow’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg at Barcelona looming.
Atletico had drawn one and won three on the trot in the league since Simeone’s appointment at the end of last year and they looked the more threatening of the two sides on a chilly night in the Spanish capital.
In a game littered with fouls, striker Radamel Falcao had the home side’s best chance midway through the second half, but his close-range effort was cleared off the line by Valencia defender Adil Rami.
Sevilla slipped deeper into crisis when they were beaten 2-1 at home by improving Villarreal earlier on Sunday, a seventh straight game without a win, which left the Andalusians only four points above the relegation places.
Borja Valero volleyed the visitors in front in the 20th minute at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, before a Jesus Navas center was turned into his own net by Villarreal midfielder Bruno Soriano in the 33rd minute to make it 1-1.
Javier Camunas clipped home the winner nine minutes from time, and the stadium erupted in booing and whistling at the end of the game, as the home players and coach Marcelino trooped off down the tunnel with their heads bowed.
“The results are negative, but I will continue working until those who make the decisions decide otherwise,” Marcelino, who was appointed in June, told a press conference.
“I will not throw in the towel, and I know where I am coming from and with what high hopes I arrived here,” he said.
In a congested lower half of the table, where six points separate eighth from 18th, Sevilla are 11th on 26 points, while Villarreal’s revival after an injury-hit season continued as they climbed out of the relegation places up to 16th place.
Struggling Sporting de Gijon, who sacked long-serving coach Manuel Preciado last Tuesday and are yet to appoint a replacement, conceded a goal 13 minutes from time to draw 1-1 at home to mid-table CA Osasuna in the earlier kickoff.
Real Zaragoza’s woes deepened when they surrendered the lead and were beaten 2-1 at home by Rayo Vallecano de Madrid.
They remain rooted to the bottom of the table on 12 points, seven behind Gijon.