Valencia fall to derby defeat at Levante
Valencia hopes of returning to the Champions League next season suffered a blow as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at local rivals Levante on Sunday.
Madrid: Valencia hopes of returning to the Champions League next season suffered a blow as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at local rivals Levante on Sunday.
Victor Casadesus put the hosts on the road to victory with a bullet header from Andres Ivanschitz`s corner just before the hour mark.
Valencia captain Dani Parejo looked to have got his side back in the game when he played a lovely one-two with Alvaro Negredo before slotting home 17 minutes from time.
However, within 60 seconds Levante were back in front as substitute Jose Luis Morales curled into the top corner from just outside the area.
Defeat leaves Valencia in fourth place, just a point ahead of Sevilla, and now six adrift of leaders Real Madrid.
Star summer signing Negredo was finally fit enough to make his full debut for Valencia in the absence of the injured Paco Alcacer, but the former Manchester City striker endured a frustrating afternoon in front of goal and with some of referee Inaki Vicandi Garrido`s decisions.
Levante`s veteran forward David Barral posed the first serious threat of the game after a slow start when his header floated inches wide just after the half hour mark.
Negredo then saw two good chances go begging as he headed over from close range before appearing to have been brought down by Loukas Vyntra as he raced clear with just Diego Marino to beat.
However, his claims for a penalty and a red card for Vyntra were waved away as the teams went in at half-time locked at 0-0.
Levante were far more positive early in the second period and after Diego Alves had denied Casadesus and Barral from close range, they got their reward on 57 minutes.
Casadesus showed great strength to hold off German international Shkodran Mustafi and left Alves with no chance as he got his head to Ivanschitz`s cross.
A lovely interchange between Negredo and Parejo brought Valencia level 14 minutes later as the midfielder fed the Spanish international before slotting home at the near post from his return pass.
However, any hopes that Nuno Espirito Santo`s men could then go on to win the game were shattered seconds later when Morales drove forward before cutting inside and unleashing a brilliant effort into the top corner.
Valencia surged forward in the search for another leveller, but the closest they came was when Rodrigo de Paul`s low effort flew inches past the far post a minute from time.
Earlier, Celta Vigo missed the chance to move level with Sevilla in fifth as they suffered their first away defeat of the season at Rayo Vallecano thanks to Alberto Bueno`s first-half winner.
Celta`s defeat allowed Villarreal to gain ground as they moved to within two points of the Galicians with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Getafe thanks to first-half goals from Mario Gaspar and Gerard Moreno.