Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Valencia fire coach amid risk of losing Europe bid

Reuters, MADRID

Valencia have sacked coach Miroslav Djukic after their erratic form this season left them in danger of missing out on a place in European competition next term.

Former Serbia coach Djukic was hired in June to replace Ernesto Valverde, but Valencia remain mired in ninth in La Liga with just less than half the season played and Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid appears to have been the last straw for the board of los Che.

Sporting director Francisco Joaquin Perez Rufete said the club were seeking a replacement and B team coach Nico Estevez would take charge in the meantime.

Former Yugoslavia centerback Djukic spent six seasons at Valencia as a player and had stints at Deportivo de La Coruna and Tenerife.

As a coach, he helped Real Valladolid win promotion back to the top flight last year and after they finished in 14th place last term, he announced he was moving on.

“As is normal for a professional, I don’t agree with the board’s decision, but I respect it,” Djukic told Monday’s news conference.

Valencia are through to the last 32 of the Europa League, Europe’s second-tier club competition, where they will play Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev.

In La Liga on Monday, Javi Guerra scored three second-half goals in heavy fog at the Estadio Jose Zorilla on Monday to give Valladolid a much-needed 3-0 win over 10-man RC Celta de Vigo.

The striker has 10 goals in 16 rounds, tying him with Real Sociedad’s Antoine Griezmann as the third-leading scorer in the league.

Valladolid’s second home victory of the season and first since August lifted them out of the relegation zone and level with Celta, while sliding UD Almeria into the drop zone with Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and Real Betis Balompie.

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