Alaves remains unbeaten at home, rises to 4th in Spain
The small team from the northern Basque Country climbed past Real Madrid and into fourth place at six points behind leader Barcelona. Alaves also established its best record for the first half of a league with 31 points after 19 rounds.
“You have to appreciate what this team has done,” said Alaves coach Abelardo Fernandez, who took over the team last season and turned it around. “Alaves deserves a monument for what these players have done through the first half of the season. I am proud to be their coach.”
Valencia dominated possession with its flashier attack, but Alaves got its goals by outmuscling rivals to balls in the area.
Dani Parejo gave Valencia the lead in the 14th minute at Mendizorroza Stadium where the midfielder bent a free kick over the defensive barrier.
Midfielder Tomas Pina added to the fightback in first-half injury time when he scrambled home a ball after Alaves pinned Valencia in its area and came close to scoring twice.
“We know that, while not superior, we can compete with anybody at home,” Pina said. “We feel how much our fans push us. That is one of our strengths. We hope that this harmony with our supporters continues.”
Valencia was left in 11th place as its disappointing season continues for a side that finished fourth last season.
“We knew they were good at set-pieces and that they had scored six or seven goals that way this season, but we let our concentration down and committed two errors,” said Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno, who missed one of Valencia’s few chances to get a second goal.
A RAY OF HOPE
Last-place Huesca came from behind to beat Real Betis 2-1 and win its first match since the opening round, ending a 16-match winless streak.
Huesca got goals from David Ferreiro in the 73rd and Christian Rivera in the 79th to overhaul a penalty converted by Antonio Sanabria.
Huesca, which is playing its first season in Spain’s top division, is five points from safety.
Rayo Vallecano got a first-minute goal from Alvaro Medran and some good goalkeeping to win at Valladolid 1-0.
Stole Dimitrievski saved a penalty kick by Miguel Alfonso with two minutes remaining to ensure the victory for the relegation-threatened Rayo.