Valencia hang on to beat Real Madrid 2-1

Valencia (Spain), Feb 23 (IANS) Riding on two early strikes in the first 10 minutes, Spanish football giants Valencia eked out a 2-1 victory over mighty Real Madrid, who missed a chance to consolidate their hold on first place in La Liga.

The early lead for the hosts conditioned the course of Wednesday’s match, with Valencia practically ceding possession to the Blancos and relying on compact defending to preserve the advantage, reports Efe.

Zaza scored for Valencia in the fifth minute and Orellana connected just four minutes later in front of 45,000 fans at the Mestalla.

Real Madrid’s stars struggled to find time and space to create against a disciplined home side.

Karim Benzema had the first opportunity for the visitors, but Valencia goalkeeper Alves turned aside the Frenchman’s shot moments before Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas made an excellent stop on a free kick by Parejo in the 30th minute.

The Blancos’ dominance bore fruit in the final minute of the first half, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 15th goal of the La Liga season, heading in a cross from Marcelo.

Real Madrid took even firmer control of the match in the second 45 minutes, but possession did not translate into clear chances and even some last-minute heroics from Sergio Ramos were not enough to get the equaliser.

The outcome left the Blancos with 52 points from 22 matches, just a point ahead of second-placed Barcelona, though Real Madrid has a game in hand.

Valencia, with 26 points in 23 matches, is in 14th place, 10 points above the relegation zone.

–IANS

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