Valencia held to shock draw in Álava
League leaders Valencia surprised many by dropping points as they were held to a 2-2 draw in their trip to the Mendizorrotza to face 16th place Alavés. The visitors came into the game in fine form, unbeaten in 13 games, and many expected the 3 points a formality for the side who began the day 6 points clear on Saturday night. Valencia made 4 changes from the side who progressed to the Copa Del Rey semi-finals 4 days ago, needing a penalty shoot-out to overcome Celta Vigo. In came Antonio Valencia, José Gayà, Jason and Yunus Musah, with Daniel Wass, Thierry Correia, Emile Smith Rowe and Uros Racic making way.
Hosts Alavés took the shock lead just 6 minutes into the game, former Blackburn Rovers and Levante midfielder Rubén Rochina whipping a dangerous free kick into the area, superbly met by a towering header by Brazilian defender Rodrigo Ely, the former Milan man directing his effort well beyond the reach of Jasper Cillessen in the Valencia goal. Valencia hauled themselves level on the half hour mark, although they needed the intervention of VAR to be awarded the penalty. A throw-in on the right by Jason was knocked back to the winger by Gameiro, and when he swung one into the box former Newcastle United defender Florian Lejeune inexplicably pushing Joshua Zirkzee over in the area. After a brief check of the monitor, the referee pointed to the spot and top scorer Kevin Gameiro duly dispatched the ball into the corner, Fernando Pacheco well beaten.
6 minutes after the break normal service was resumed as the visitors took the lead. Another throw in on the right hand side, this time Antonio Valencia using Gameiro as the outlet, the striker doing well to drop deep and hold the ball before returning the pass to the full back. The Ecuadorian international carried the ball forward before squaring to Carlos Soler 30 yards out, the central midfielder firing in low and hard, the wet surface helping the ball flash past the sprawling Pacheco.
Valencia almost had a third on 70 minutes but for some resolute defending from the hosts. A deep free kick on the left from José Gayà was sent down the line for De La Cruz, who had dropped wide off his man Lejeune, the wide man spinning and slipping the ball into the area for substitute defender Eliaquim Mangala, who was in the area expecting the set piece to be fired in first time. A great first touch from the centre half teed up Gayà, whose shot cannoned off Lee Kang-In inside the area with the effort looking goalbound. Diakhaby picked up possession again, this time using Valencia on the right hand side, the full back squaring the ball for Gameiro on the edge of the 6 yard box. A last ditch block from Alavés scorer Rodrigo Ely prevented Gameiro adding to his tally, before another well timed tackle from Duarte then cleared the danger.
Alavés were rewarded for their defending as they snatched a vital equaliser with just 3 minutes to square, the impressive Duarte again involved. His throw led to a couple of interchanges with Tachi down the right, the former Espanyol man then whipping the ball into the area where Experienced striker Joselu had peeled off Mangala to meet the ball on the volley, connecting superbly to fire into the roof of the net giving Cillessen no chance, the former Stoke and Newcastle man capping an impressive performance with a goal, and hosts Alavés taking a valuable point in their battle against relegation.Share this: