Liga - Castro double downs Valencia

Sat, 10 Dec 20:53:00 2011

Two goals from Ruben Castro in injury time condemned Valencia to a shock 2-1 defeat after a remarkable conclusion to their game at Real Betis in La Liga.

Rubén Castro Real Betis Real Mallorca - 0

Unai Emery's Valencia were enjoying their third-best start to a league season and looked to have extended their impressive run of form and moved to within a point of Barcelona thanks to an own-goal from Betis defender Jose Dorado after 66 minutes.

However, Betis equalised on the stroke of 90 minutes as Castro headed home from close range, and the forward then smacked another shot home with just seconds remaining as the hosts ended a run of 10 games without a victory in totally unexpected circumstances.

Valencia's key threat, as ever, was Roberto Soldado. The striker is the highest-scoring Spanish player across Europe's top five leagues with nine goals this season and could have entered double figures after only 10 minutes then sneaking in behind Jose Isidoro to test Casto Barriga from a tight angle.

From the subsequent corner, Betis defender Perez Nacho skewed his attempted clearance up into the air and then allowed the ball to strike his arm on the way down. However, the referee was ill-placed to see the incident and no penalty was awarded.

Betis, without a win in 10 league outings, were struggling to create chances on home turf but did threaten through Roque Santa Cruz as a neat touch took the striker through on goal, before an attempted square pass was blocked.

Santa Cruz also caused chaos in the Valencia box after 30 minutes when his cross from the right almost forced Antonio Barragan to inadvertently turn the ball past his own keeper as the Valencia defender got his legs in a tangle.

However, Valencia were the better side and after Jonas saw a shot from a tight angle blocked, Soldado threatened once again when being released by Victor Ruiz and seeing his toe-poke saved by Casto.

Betis improved after the break and enjoyed a decent opening on 58 minutes when Castro cut in from the left, eluded Angel Ibanez and fired a shot high and wide from a good position.

However, Valencia always possessed a threat as Jonas shot wide and Soldado only narrowly failed to slide in and convert at the back post from a wicked cross from Barragan.

It was the very presence of Soldado that forced the opener on 66 minutes. Tino Costa opened up the Betis defence with a fine pass and when Jeremy Mathieu attempted to square for Soldado to tap in, Dorado unwittingly turned the ball into his own net.

Betis rallied somewhat as Santa Cruz began to grow in presence. The striker, on-loan from Manchester City, flicked one header just over the bar before then getting his toe to a low cross to force Diego Alves into a save. However, the striker was promptly substituted on 75 minutes.

Valencia looked to have the game sewn up but they did not reckon for Castro.

As the game ticked over into injury time, he met a cross from substitute Juanma to head past Alves, and then four minutes into injury time added a second when blasting the ball home following a lovely ball over the top from Juanma again.


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