Getafe fought back for a sorely needed 3-1 victory at Valencia on Sunday, breaking a 15-match winless streak and escaping from La Liga’s relegation zone.
Getafe’s first away win since Oct. 31 last year and their first under new coach Cosmin Contra lifted the struggling Madrid-based side one point clear of the drop zone.
Forwards Angel Lafita, Ciprian Marica and Pedro Leon scored for Getafe after Eduardo Vargas had opened the scoring at the Estadio Mestalla.
Tempers flared in the final moments after Leon apparently provoked the crowd following his goal. Valencia defender Jeremy Mathieu was sent off for slapping Leon, before Contra was also banished from the dugout.
Valencia joined a group of teams fighting for an upper-table finish and a European berth who all dropped points at the weekend.
Real Sociedad were held to a 1-1 draw at CA Osasuna and Villarreal drew 1-1 at home with Elche, so none were able to fully capitalize on the losses by Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and RCD Espanyol on Saturday.
Valencia had the goal of returning to the UEFA Champions League next season, but after the stinging loss they look set to not even make the Europa League.
“The reality is that right now we are not better than Getafe,” Valencia coach Juan Pizzi said.
Valencia appeared to be in control after Vargas headed in Dani Parejo’s corner-kick six minutes into the match, but Lafita unleashed a blistering low strike between two defenders that went in off the post in the 25th minute and two minutes later Ciprian Marica dived to head in a pass.
Getafe goalkeeper Jordi Codina palmed Philippe Senderos’ header over in the 64th minute and was fortunate Paco Alcacer’s shot rattled the woodwork a minute later, before Leon sealed the win in the 88th minute.
“This is very important because the team was in a very delicate situation,” Contra said. “This gives us a little bit of breathing room. I believe with this attitude and character we can turn this around.”
Sociedad also started well in Pamplona, with forward Gonzalo Castro scoring in the seventh minute from Carlos Vela’s unselfish pass.
However, Osasuna settled down and began to threaten from corners and free-kicks, while Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez almost scored in the 49th minute from the halfway line with a long lob that hit the crossbar.
Osasuna striker Oriol Riera finally converted his fourth attempt from a set-piece when he headed in Roberto Torres’ cross in the 59th minute and Sociedad needed goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to protect the point after Osasuna pressed them into their penalty area in stoppage-time.
Villarreal’s quest to catch Bilbao was likewise frustrated in a dull match against Elche.
After US sprinter Justin Gatlin took the honorary kickoff at El Madrigal, Elche went ahead in the 31st minute when Damian Suarez converted a penalty following Jeremy Perbet’s foul on Alberto Botia.
Forward Jonathan Pereira scored the hosts’ equalizer a minute before halftime when he used one touch to turn in a high ball that fell to him in the penalty area.
Also on Sunday, Real Valladolid beat 10-man UD Almeria 1-0 in a match between two teams fighting to avoid relegation.
Valladolid striker Manucho scored what proved to be the winner in the sixth minute. Almeria defender Marco Torsiglieri was dismissed in the 75th minute.