Valencia settle for draw at Celta Vigo; Villarreal stretch unbeaten run
Valencia wasted an opportunity to gain ground on their rivals for a UEFA Champions League spot as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.
Rodrigo Moreno gave the visitors the lead just before half-time after Fabian Orellana had missed a penalty, but the Chilean made up for his error by grabbing the equalizer in the second half. The 1-1 draw between Malaga and Villarreal earlier in the day presented Nuno Espirito Santo’s side with the chance to widen the gap with the other UEFA Champions League contenders, but they could be unseated in fourth spot on Sunday if Sevilla beat Almeria.
Celta meanwhile will be relieved at picking up their first point in seven league matches and scoring their first league goal in 727 minutes, and the Galicians move up to ninth in the table. Celta went into the game on the back of a six-game losing streak and had not scored a goal in their last seven league outings, but created the first chance of the game in the eighth minute when Nolito released Orellana inside the area but Diego Alves beat the Chilean’s shot away.
Alves’ opposite number Sergio Alvarez had to make an even better save at the other end to keep the match goalless, diving across goal to claw away a goal-bound header from Rodrigo. Celta were awarded the perfect opportunity to end their goal drought in the 27th minute, when Charles was swiped off his feet by Nicolas Otamendi.
However, Orellana was denied by Diego Alves as the Brazilian saved his 14th penalty in the Primera Division, overtaking Santiago Canizares as the club’s top penalty saver of all time. Things got even worse for the hosts just before the break. Rodrigo eased his way past defenders to cut in from the right hand side and hit a low shot at goal, the ball bouncing under Sergio Alvarez and rolling into the net. Alvarez has been one of the outstanding goalkeepers in the Primera Division this season and his untimely error seemed to be a clear symptom of the low confidence among Celta’s ranks at the moment,
However, Eduardo Berrizo’s side regrouped in the second half and drew level just after the hour mark. Charles flicked a corner across goal and Orellana was waiting just outside the six-yard box to volley the ball low and into the net.
Valencia wilted after conceding and Celta could have snatched a late winner. Nolito spread the play across to Orellana on the right hand side of the area and the Chilean sent a cross-shot to the far post which Charles slid across to meet but narrowly failed to connect with the ball.
Meanwhile, Villarreal stretched their unbeaten run to 13 matches but were unable to put any more daylight between themselves and rival European hopefuls Malaga as the two teams shared a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening.
Jonathan Dos Santos’ thunderous volley on the stroke of half-time put Villarreal ahead at La Rosaleda but Malaga fought back and Nordin Amrabat’s equalizer on the hour mark levelled things up. The result keeps sixth-placed Villarreal one point and one place ahead of Malaga in the table, but both clubs have now played two more games than Sevilla in fifth and could end up looking back on Saturday’s match as a missed opportunity.
Neither side seemed willing to risk too much in search of the three points, though, and the draw was a fair result.