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In a sometimes heated battle at the Riazor, a ten-man Los Che side were unable to return to the top four when they were held by a persistent Blanquiazul outfit.

Deportivo La Coruna 1-1 Valencia

Deportivo and Valencia entered the encounter in similar strife, missing several key players following long trips in midweek in the UEFA Cup. Miguel Angel Lotina had to make do without Andres Guardado, Riki and Manuel Pablo while Unai Emery had to leave out Emiliano Moretti, Raul Albiol and Miguel.

First Half

Depor started the brighter and took the game straight to their opponents and they had their first chance after just five minutes. Alexis sent his poor clearance straight to Lassad Nouioui, but his low drive from 20 yards out looking for the bottom right corner was saved by an alert Cesar.

Two minutes later, Valencia had their first glimpse of goal when David Silva released Joaquin, who glided into the box and rounded Daniel Aranzubia, but the former Athletic Bilbao shot-stopper stuck out his arm and cleanly swatted the ball away.

But the home side quickly resumed control of the game with some crisp passing as Lassad, Verdu and Filipe all had decent attempts at goal but none could beat Cesar infront of the Che goal.

The visitors struggled just to get the ball out of their own half and when they did, any attempts of an attack were broken up in the middle third of the pitch.

But completely against the run of play, Valencia took the lead on 24 minutes. David Villa was yards behind the last Depor defender, Piscu, but the offside call from the ever controversial referee, Perez Burull, never came as the pass came off the boot of Julian De Guzman. Villa did not hesitate as he brought the ball down, checked past the recovering Piscu and slammed his shot past a static Aranzubia.

Depor were shaken and they started to lose their composure whenever they had possession of the ball. But they kept pressing forward and created countless openings down the flanks, especially through Filipe and Lassad, and from set-pieces but the final ball was a constant disappointment.

Depor came close to an equaliser a minute into injury time as De Guzman almost atoned for his earlier error. He ghosted into the box unattended to connect with Lafita’s cross time but the Canadian could only stab his volley off-balance from three yards out straight at Cesar.

Second Half

Miguel Angel Lotina’s men started off the second period with the same idea as they had all game long, launching aerial raids in the hope that the lanky Lassad will be able to connect to.

But the first attempt at goal in the half did not arrive until the 60th minute when Lassad cushioned down a header for Verdu, who’s blistering half volley just flew wide.

And seconds later, Juan Rodriguez almost latched onto a sloppy backpass from Marchena but Cesar dashed off his line just in time to clear. The impressive Filipe then fired in a direct freekick from 20 yards out but the veteran Valencia goalkeeper was again equal to the task.

Depor came even closer from another freekick opportunity on 70 minutes when Sergio curled in his shot and the ball just skimmed off the top of the bar. But the Galicians were thrown a lifeline five minutes later when Villa was sent off for a second yellow card after he charged in late on Aranzubia in an attempt to block a clearance.

And Depor did not hesitate to take advantage when they drew levelled on 79 minutes. Sergio floated in a precise cross from a freekick and Piscu lunged forward at the far post to nod it across goal and past the out-stretched hands of Cesar.

Ruben Baraja almost sent Valencia back infront immediately when he jinked past three defenders before unleashing a bullet from 20 yards out which sailed just inches wide.

The game almost exploded in the closing stages when Verdu steamed into the box with the ball but was stopped in his tracks by the sprawling Cesar, only for Lassad to return the favour when he robbed it off the goalkeeper’s hands but from a tight angle, the young French forward could only send his shot into the side netting. Cesar and Marchena were furious as they protested that the whistle should have gone when the ball struck Verdu’s arm before he advance forward.

Depor had the final chance of the game when Sergio floated in a freekick from the left but Cesar showed a safe pair of hands to pluck it out of the air. The final whistle went immediately after but a number of players from both sides squared off with each other and had to be separated by team-mates.

The draw did neither club any favours as Deportivo remained in eigth place, three points off the Europa League (UEFA Cup) zone while Valencia dropped down to fifth, two points away from Champions League qualification.

LINE-UPS

Deportivo La Coruna (4-2-3-1): Aranzubia – Laure, Lopo, Piscu, Filipe – Antonio Tomas (Sergio, 70’), De Guzman – Lafita, Juan Rodriguez (Valeron, 65’), Verdu – Lassad (Bodipo, 88’)

Unused subs: Bravo, Pablo Alvarez, Colotto, Munua

Valencia (4-2-3-1): Cesar – Maduro, Alexis, Marchena, Del Horno – Manuel Fernandes, Baraja – Joaquin (Michel, 62’), Mata, Silva (Morientes, 77’) – Villa

Unused subs: Vicente, Pablo, Carlos David, Angulo, Guaita

DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA 1-1 VALENCIA

0-1: Valencia (Villa, 24’)

1-1: Deportivo La Coruna (Piscu, 79’)

BOOKINGS

Deportivo La Coruna: Lopo (91’)

Valencia: Alexis (18’), Joaquin (36’), Villa (36’, 76’), Silva (40’), Baraja (69’), Cesar (87’), Marchena (87’), Michel (92’)

RED CARD

Valencia: Villa (76’)

KS Leong, Goal.com

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