Red cards boost Levante and Valencia

La Liga sides Valencia and Levante keep up the chase for European places as they come from behind to record victories.

    Red cards boost Levante and Valencia
    Levante midfielder Vicente Iborra celebrates putting his team ahead before half-time [EPA]

    Levante and Valencia made the most of red cards for their opponents on Saturday to come from behind and record wins that keep them in the hunt for the European places in La Liga.

    Levante won 3-1 at home to Athletic Bilbao to secure sixth place with 30 points from 18 games, while Valencia climbed to seventh with 27 after a 2-1 victory at Granada. 

    Levante were trailing from the sixth minute after Aritz Aduriz headed Bilbao in front with his 11th goal of the campaign, but the overlapping Christian Lell blasted an equaliser into the top corner after 26.

    The visitors had young defender Aymeric Laporte sent off a minute before the break and Vicente Iborra headed in from close range before the teams went in for halftime.

    Nabil El Zhar's low shot from outside the area ended the game as a contest in the 69th.

    Bilbao's Spain striker Fernando Llorente, who is negotiating a possible move to Juventus, received a warm reception from Levante fans when he came on as a substitute, but was unable to dispel the doubts surrounding Marcelo Bielsa's stewardship of the club.

    Bilbao, last season's King's Cup and Europa League finalists, are 13th with 21 points.

    Granada were a man down from the 34th minute, when Mikel Rico was harshly shown a second yellow card for a handball against Valencia.

    The hosts took the lead in the 50th minute, however, when Brayan Angulo's audacious shot with the outside of his left foot looped into the top corner. 

    The game was threatening to boil over as Granada sought to break up the flow, but Valencia levelled when Jonas powered in a header from a corner in the 59th.

    Ernesto Valverde's side kept up the pressure and were rewarded when the lively Pablo Piatti slotted in at the back post to seal the victory eight minutes from time.

    In the later kick-off, lowly Deportivo pulled off a shock 1-0 victory over high-flying Malaga.

    Portuguese striker Luis 'Pizzi' Afonso scored in the 57th minute to give new coach Domingos Paciencia a victorious debut in the Spanish league. It was Deportivo's first win in over two months and third in the last 18 rounds.

    In the final game of Saturday, Osasuna have the chance to send Deportivo back to the bottom of the pile if they take a point at Sevilla.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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