Valencia stumbles in Liga title race after 2-1 loss at Eibar

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Valencia stumbled for a second straight away game when it lost 2-1 at Eibar on Saturday in the latest blow to its challenge to Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league.

Valencia forward Santi Mina equalized in the 57th minute to cancel out Takashi Inui’s opener for Eibar just after halftime.

But Joan Jordan powered in a header from a cross by Ivan Alejo to grab the victory for the hosts with three minutes remaining.

The absence of suspended striker Simone Zaza and injured midfielder Carlos Soler showed as Valencia again dropped points away from its Mestalla Stadium. Valencia’s 1-0 defeat at Getafe two rounds ago ended its unbeaten season.

Barcelona can increase its five-point lead over Valencia when it hosts Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.

The loss also puts Valencia at risk of losing hold of second place. Atletico Madrid can move ahead of Valencia if it beats Alaves later Saturday.

”We didn’t have the scoring touch we needed to take the lead and they took advantage of our inability to finish,” Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia Toral said. ”I don’t recall any other chances for Eibar other than the ones they turned into goals. We have to congratulate them for the win, but a draw would have been fair.”

After only one win in the first eight rounds, Eibar has won four and drawn one to rise to seventh place and in contention for a Europa League berth.

DERBY DUD

Real Sociedad drew 0-0 at Athletic Bilbao in a Basque Country derby that left both stuck in their winless ruts.

Bilbao forward Raul Garcia had the clearest chance when he tried to surprise Sociedad goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli with a long-range volley that Rulli had to parry wide in the 52nd.

Sociedad was left in ninth place as its winless run reached five matches. Bilbao is 13th after its fourth consecutive home game without a victory.