Manolo Jimenez's side held on to record an invaluable victory moving it to within five points of safety as Los Che's grip on third place loosens.In a match embroiled in contentious decisions, nine-man Zaragoza recorded a 2-1 victory over a stunned Valencia side at Mestalla thanks to a brace from Apono.
Pablo Hernandez fired the home side ahead before the referee took center stage. Zaragoza was reduced to 10 when the referee dismissed Pablo Alvarez for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Despite being a player short, Zaragoza was awarded a suspect penalty allowing Apono to net the equalizer in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, and the Spaniard silenced the home crowd with a magical finish 13 minutes from time to record an unexpected triumph.
Roberto Soldado orchestrated Los Che's first meaningful attack of the match, when his chipped pass found Antonio Barragan. The marauding full back picked out Artiz Aduriz at the far post who was subsequently denied by Roberto's sprawling save.
Valencia's prolific striker turned creator a second time soon after when he collected a throw in on the near touchline. Soldado turned and sped into the penalty area before finding Hernandez in space on the penalty spot allowing him to provide a cool finish.
The Aragonese outfit was unable to disrupt Valencia's rhythm and found the task made harder when Alvarez was sent off. Aduriz found himself clear of the Zaragoza defense before the stopper brought him to ground with a clumsy challenge, which the referee judged to be worthy of a red card despite the covering defenders.
In another contentious decision from the referee, Zaragoza was given a lifeline when it was awarded a penalty following Dealbert's overzealous defending. Despite Valencia's prolonged protestations, Apono wasn't complaining as the midfielder finished with aplomb to level the match.
As was to be expected Valencia barraged Roberto's goal for the remainder of the first half but despite crafting a number of chances, Aduriz, Soldado and Jonas all failed to put the home side ahead.
The home side was limited to scrambled chances in the second half but was nearly rewarded for its perseverance. Following a desperate passage of play from the Zaragoza defense, Jonas had a wonderful chance to put the home side ahead, but the Brazilian inexcusably put his effort wide.
Despite the attacking intent for much of the half, Valencia found itsels behind after a swift counterattack. Lafita disposed Adil Rami before laying the ball off to Apono, who scored his second of the night with an unstoppable drive into the top corner of the net.
The home side committed numbers forward in the dying embers of the game but Zaragoza was able to hold out despite being reduced to nine men following Franco Zuculini's reckless foul. The win moves Manolo Jimenez's side to within five points of safety while Valencia's grip on third loosens just a little.
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