Osasuna fight-back dents Valencia`s European hopes

Barcelona: Struggling Osasuna won only their second point away from home all season as they stormed back to draw 3-3 against Valencia and put a dent in their rival`s Champions League hopes.

Valencia went into the game looking to close the gap on the top four with Villarreal and Espanyol both losing at the weekend but in the end it was Osasuna who were celebrating having recorded just one previous point away against Deportivo la Coruna.

"It was a game in which both teams had a half in which they were superior and in the second-half we were unable to cope with Osasuna`s attacks," said Valencia coach Unai Emery.

"We worried about conceding an equaliser and that was what happened. We have to be critical of ourselves and be stronger."

Meanwhile Osasuna coach Jose Antonio Camacho praised the way his side battled back at 3-1 down.

"We didn`t deserve to be two goals down but in the second half it was all us," he said.

"With ten minutes to go we were losing and that was not just but we did not give up and were able to claim something from the game."

Valencia were lively in attack and Roberto Soldado had already wasted a good opening before he broke the deadlock mid-way through the first half.

Defender Mario Stankevicius, forward for a corner, slotted in a loose ball in the area to double the lead and while Juanfran Torres pulled a goal back, Aritz Aduriz headed home a Joaquin Sanchez corner to give them a comfortable cushion at half-time.

Osasuna were showing plenty of invention but little clinical finishing. They benefitted though from a goalkeeping howler from Cesar Sanchez as he came and failed to claim a cross allowing Miguel Flano to score.

In a grandstand finish substitute Carlos Aranda stabbed the ball into the back of the net as the Valencia defence once again failed to clear their lines.

On Sunday Argentinian superstar Leo Messi had scored a brace as Barcelona produced another excellent exhibition of attacking football to beat Real Sociedad 5-0 and maintain their two point lead at the top of the table.

The onus was on them after Real Madrid had earlier beaten bottom side Real Zaragoza 3-1 but they never looked troubled with David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Bojan Krkic scoring the other goals.

Their quality in attack has led Xavi to claim this is the best Barca side he has played for.

"I have been at this club for a long time and we have never been at this level before.”

"It is a luxury and a privilege that Barca are in this situation.”

"Each game the team wants more and we never tire of competing and winning titles. We have grown up with our families along with Barca and we are students of this school which deserves the acclaim."

Bureau Report