Mon, Apr 15, 2013 - Page 18 News List

LA LIGA: Valencia denied by Espanyol in thriller

AFP, MADRID

Real Valladolid goalkeeper Dani Hernandez watches the ball fly into his net in his side’s La Liga match against Getafe in Valladolid, Spain, on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Valencia missed the chance to move into fourth place in La Liga as Sergio Garcia’s 94th-minute goal salvaged a 3-3 draw for RCD Espanyol in a crazy finale at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat.

Mubarak Wakaso had given the hosts a deserved lead in first-half stoppage-time, but Valencia improved greatly after the break and were level eight minutes after the restart when Ever Banega released Sergio Canales to score his first goal of the season.

Joan Verdu then restored Espanyol’s advantage nine minutes from time, but Valencia had appeared to have snatched all three points when two goals in four minutes from Jonas and Roberto Soldado handed them the lead for the first time in stoppage-time.

Yet, with the last kick of the game, Garcia outmuscled Victor Ruiz and lifted the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle to secure the hosts a point.

“It feels like a defeat,” Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde said. “There is still a lot left to play for. It is more complicated when you think that if we had won, we could have been fourth and now we are not, but we have games against those around us to come and I believe the team will pick up a good number of points in these games.”

With Real Sociedad not in action until yesterday against Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, a victory for Valverde’s men would have moved them into the final Champions League place, but they did not get going in the first half and were lucky not to be more than one behind.

Cristian Stuani had a good claim for a penalty waved away on 15 minutes, before the Uruguayan was denied by a decent stop from Vicente Guaita.

Hector Moreno then hooked a shot just wide as Espanyol continued to press and they were eventually rewarded when Garcia’s fine cross was fired home at the back post by Wakaso.

Valencia were level after the break, though, thanks to a brilliant pass from Banega that picked out Canales and he finished neatly between the legs of Kiko Casilla.

Soldado then struck the post from a corner as Valencia began to control the game, but they were forced to come from behind again when Espanyol constructed a fine second goal on 81 minutes.

Again a Garcia cross picked out Wakaso, but this time he headed the ball back for Verdu to volley into the top corner.

Espanyol’s lead only lasted five minutes as Valencia struck back with a similar goal when Soldado headed into the path of Jonas, who drilled the ball low into the net.

Soldado thought he had won it in the first minute of stoppage-time when he took advantage of another clever pass from Banega to slot calmly past Casilla, but Espanyol did not give up and rescued the point their performance deserved when poor defending by Ruiz allowed Garcia to get goal-side and he made no mistake from close range.

Elsewhere, Malaga got over the disappointment of their elimination from the UEFA Champions League last week as Julio Baptista’s goal deep into stoppage-time gave them a deserved 1-0 win over CA Osasuna.

RC Deportivo de La Coruna moved out of the relegation zone for the first time since December last year as they triumphed 4-0 at Levante UD.

Juan Carlos Valeron, Pizzi and Nelson Oliveira put the visitors 3-0 up before halftime, before Bruno Gama put the seal on a fourth consecutive victory for the Galicians in stoppage-time.

Real Valladolid all but sealed their place in the top flight for another season when they came from behind to beat Getafe 2-1.

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