Tue, Nov 21, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Valencia maintain Barcelona pursuit

AFP, MADRID

Valencia on Sunday maintained their pursuit of Barcelona to remain four points off the La Liga leaders thanks to second-half goals from Geoffrey Kondogbia and Santi Mina to beat a luckless RCD Espanyol 2-0.

A club record eighth straight La Liga win for Valencia moved Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men six points clear of Real Madrid in third and set up a mouthwatering top-of-the-table showdown at home to Barcelona at the weekend.

“We want to beat Barcelona to be as high in the table as we can, but we still can’t talk about being candidates to win the title yet,” said Valencia assistant coach Ruben Uria, who faced the media after Marcelino was sent to the stands in the second half.

However, the visitors had fortune on their side as Espanyol dominated for large spells and hit the woodwork twice.

“In the first half they got the better of us, but the team knew how to resist, stay compact, suffer and compete,” Mina told BeIN Sports Spain. “The big teams also win like this. The important thing was to win.”

Marcelino surprisingly left top scorer Simone Zaza and on-loan Paris Saint-Germain forward Goncalo Guedes on the bench, and that decision nearly backfired as Valencia struggled to gain a foothold in the first hour.

The pressure Valencia were under was seen on the sidelines when Marcelino was sent to the stands for his protests toward the officials and he is likely to be banned from the touchline against Barca.

However, a moment of magic from Kondogbia swung the game Valencia’s way 23 minutes from time as he curled home a wonderful long-range strike.

Then Mina pounced on Victor Sanchez’s short back-pass to calmly side-foot past Pau Lopez to secure all three points.

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