Valencia wins as late goals abound in Spanish league
Jan. 17, 2015
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Alvaro Negredo struck with a header seven minutes from time to secure a 3-2 victory over Almeria to start an exciting Saturday of late winners in the Spanish league.
Two other matches were decided in the final minutes, as Felipe Caicedo netted in the 89th to snatch Espanyol a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo, while Manucho's header helped Rayo Vallecano win 1-0 at Real Sociedad.
Like Valencia, regional rival Villarreal also stayed in contention for a top-four finish and a Champions League berth with a 2-0 win at home over Athletic Bilbao, extending its unbeaten streak in all competitions to 15 games.
Negredo went on with half an hour to play and steered in Jose Gaya's short cross to lift Valencia to a provisional third place, ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference before the defending champion hosts Granada on Sunday.
Almeria twice leveled through goals by striker Tomer Hemed.
Dani Parejo opened for Valencia at Mestalla Stadium in the 11th, but Hemed needed only two minutes to equalize when he tapped in a cross by Wellington Silva.
Rodrigo Moreno swept in Paco Alcacer's off-target attempt to put Valencia back in front in the 28th, only for Hemed to make it 2-2 quickly, before he hit the crossbar three minutes later. Negredo's goal left Almeria on the edge of the relegation zone.
"It was a tough game, above all in the first half, when they shot three times and scored two goals and hit the woodwork," said Negredo. "We created scoring opportunities but we weren't able to pull away until the second half.
"We have to ask our fans to be patient because sometimes we won't play the most attractive match, but we will be effective like today."
Sixth-place Villarreal hit first in an entertaining contest at El Madrigal Stadium through Denis Cheryshev three minutes before halftime. The Russian forward scored with a great solo effort as he controlled a long ball, rounded goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, and fired in from an angle.
Bilbao tried to counter the hosts' up-tempo attack with its passing game, but Bruno Soriano sealed the victory by converting a penalty in the 83rd after Oscar de Marcos handled in the area.
Bilbao, in 13th behind Sociedad, has taken just one point of a possible 18.
On Tuesday, Caicedo went on as a substitute and scored two goals that helped Espanyol advance to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals and knock Valencia out.
He repeated the feat on Saturday, going on in the 75th and fending off his marker to fire in the winner as he fell to the turf.
Espanyol rose past Celta and Rayo into ninth place. Celta hasn't won in nine rounds.
Manucho powered in Roberto Trashorras' corner kick to grab the victory with nine minutes to play in an otherwise dull match in San Sebastian.
It was only Sociedad's second loss in eight league games under coach David Moyes. The Basque club, however, was also eliminated from the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, and some jeers were heard at Anoeta Stadium after Sociedad's second defeat of the week.
League leader Real Madrid visits crosstown rival Getafe on Sunday, looking to bounce back from its exit from the Copa del Re. Second-place Barcelona is at Deportivo La Coruna, Sevilla hosts Malaga, and Elche plays Levante.