Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 18 News List

Stuttering Valencia held by Las Palmas

DISAPPOINTED:Valencia coach Gary Neville said that it is always disappointing to draw games on home turf, but he was still optimistic about the potential for future wins

Reuters, MADRID

Valencia midfielder Danilo Barbosa, left, vies for the ball with Las Palmas midfielder Roque Mesa during their King’s Cup soccer match at the Estadio Mestalla in Valencia, Spain, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Valencia’s struggles under new coach Gary Neville continued when they had to come from behind to rescue a 1-1 draw in their King’s Cup quarter-final first leg at home to UD Las Palmas on Thursday.

Former Manchester United and England defender Neville took over at the Singapore-owned club last month after Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked, but has yet to land a win in La Liga in six attempts.

Valencia fell behind in the 38th minute at the Estadio Mestalla when midfielder Wilfried Zahibo headed the ball past goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and into his own net at a free-kick.

Paco Alcacer levelled in the 61st minute with a well-struck shot from just outside the penalty area, but the home side were unable to make sustained late pressure count.

Alvaro Negredo fluffed a great chance in the third minute of added time when he failed to connect cleanly with a Jose Luis Gaya center, leaving Las Palmas with an advantage for next week’s return leg in the Canary Islands.

“When you draw a game at home you are always disappointed,” Neville said. “But if we play like we did today again we will win matches.”

Veteran Juan Carlos Valeron, who played against Neville in the Champions League more than a decade ago when the midfielder was at Deportivo La Coruna, said it was a great result for Las Palmas who are 16th in La Liga.

“We will try to make the most of it in the return and being able to keep the tie alive was very important for us,” said the 40-year-old former Spain international who was in the Las Palmas side that knocked Valencia out of the King’s Cup in 1997.

Sevilla, the five-times winners who last lifted the trophy in 2010, gained the upper hand over Mirandes, the only non-La Liga team left in the competition, when they beat the second division side 2-0.

Midfielder Steven N’Zonzi netted for the Europa League holders in the 20th minute at the Sanchez Pizjuan and substitute Vitolo struck from close range in the fourth minute of added time.

On Wednesday, holders Barcelona made smooth progress in their bid for a fourth Cup triumph in eight years when Munir el Haddadi and Neymar struck in a 2-1 victory at Athletic Bilbao.

Barca have beaten Bilbao three times in the final since 2009, including last season, and the Spanish and European champions made light of the absence of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to gain the upper hand ahead of the return game at the Nou Camp.

Celta Vigo, who have never won Spain’s domestic knockout competition, kept alive their hopes when they held Atletico Madrid, the 2013 winners and La Liga leaders, to a 0-0 draw at their Balaidos stadium in Galicia.

Coupe de france

AFP, PARIS

Holders Paris Saint-Germain are to host struggling French giants Olympique Lyonnais in the last 16 of the French Cup following Thursday’s draw.

Nine-time winners PSG are bidding to repeat last year’s domestic treble and beat Lyon 2-1 at the Parc des Princes next week to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup.

Record 10-time champions Olympique de Marseille face fourth-tier outfit Trelissac, who stunned Lille OSC on penalties in the previous round.

AS Saint-Etienne, 2-1 winners over Gazelec Ajaccio on Thursday, head to Ligue 1 relegation favorites ESTAC Troyes, while Girondins de Bordeaux host Nantes in the other two top-flight ties.

AS Monaco are away to second-tier Sochaux, with teams from the fourth division awaiting both Lorient and Ajaccio. Fifth-tier Granville and Sarreguemines are the lowest-ranked sides left in the competition, with the winner of today’s last-32 tie set to face Ligue 2 outfit Bourg-en-Bresse.

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