Liga - Valencia slump to home defeat

Sat, 14 Jan 22:51:00 2012

Valencia passed up the chance to move to within a point of Barcelona in La Liga when suffering a hugely disappointing 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad at the Mestalla.

Aritz Aduriz - 0

Sociedad inflicted only a fourth defeat of the season on Valencia when Antoine Griezmann benefitted from a sizeable slice of luck to score with a deflected effort after 55 minutes.

Unai Emery's side hit the bar through Aritz Aduriz in the first half but produced a lethargic and disjointed performance against the side sitting 16th in La Liga and are now vulnerable to fourth-placed Levante, who visit Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and are just four points behind the Che.

Valencia had only failed to score once in La Liga all season - the best record in the league - but looked devoid of inspiration in a dull first half at the Mestalla.

With Aduriz a physical presence as the lone striker in place of the prolific but suspended Roberto Soldado, the home side looked intent on getting the ball wide and bombarding the visiting defence from the air.

Dani Parejo was tasked with a similar mission from corners and one early delivery saw Aduriz get in front of his man to head down into the ground and at Sociedad keeper Claudio Bravo. Aduriz exploited his large frame once again on 16 minutes when he met a floated pass from Ever Banega and knocked the ball down to the impressive Pablo, who fired an excellent volley at Bravo.

When Valencia hit the woodwork after 17 minutes it was hardly a surprise to see it was Aduriz threatening, as he rose to meet another corner from Parejo and directed the ball off the top of the crossbar.

Sociedad, though, were limited to a wayward effort from Imanol Agirretxe in a poor first half at the Mestalla.

Valencia started the second half brightly, with Feghouli driving a firm effort just wide of the far post and Aduriz heading over the bar once again, but it was Sociedad who took the lead in fortunate fashion.

The impressive Griezmann saw his initial shot blocked and when the midfielder followed up he inadvertently handled before seeing his shot deflect off Rami and loop over Alves.

The Frenchman grew in stature and confidence as the game wore on and after 74 minutes went close with another decent effort from range.

Valencia's response was bitterly disappointing though, and aside from a hopeful attempt from substitute Jonas that flew into the arms of Bravo, and another shot from Banega that flew off target, they offered disappointingly little in the closing stages.

Sevilla's bid to qualify for next season's Champions League suffered a fresh setback when they followed up a three-match losing run with a 0-0 draw at home to Espanyol earlier on Saturday.

The Andalusian club, who have managed only 19 goals in 18 games this term, are sixth on 25 points, level with both Espanyol and Malaga, who play at Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

Thousands of fans of bottom club Real Zaragoza gathered to protest against president Agapito Iglesias before their match at home to Getafe and continued voicing their complaints about his administration inside the stadium.

The Aragonese club were closing on only a third win of the campaign after Maurizio Lanzaro put them ahead shortly before halftime but Getafe snatched an equaliser 11 minutes from time when Javier Paredes diverted the ball into his own net.

Struggling Granada's troubles deepened when they lost 2-1 at home to Rayo Vallecano.

Tom Adams - @tomEurosport / Eurosport

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