LaLiga relegation battle: Late Valencia leveller relegates Espanyol, Cadiz and Getafe win

LaLiga relegation battle: Late Valencia leveller relegates Espanyol, Cadiz and Getafe win
Espanyol will be playing second-tier football next season
Espanyol will be playing second-tier football next season
On the penultimate weekend of the LaLiga season, Valencia scored a last-minute equaliser to relegate Espanyol and improve their hopes of staying up, but wins for Cadiz and Getafe dropped them down the table and mean they're still in serious danger, while Almeria and Valladolid are close behind having drawn with one another.

Almeria 0 Valladolid 0

Almeria and Valladolid will be one of seven sides aiming to avoid the two remaining relegation spots in La Liga seven days from now, following a goalless draw at the Power Horse Stadium.

Starting the penultimate round of matches in the relegation zone on only goal difference, following a record-breaking victory at champions Barcelona in midweek, Valladolid struggled in their attempts to make inroads into the final third as Fernando Martinez remained a spectator in the Almeria goal.

Meanwhile, the hosts themselves brought out the best in Masip, who had to be on his toes as he rushed off his goalline to deny Dyego Sousa his first goal of the season, before the Valladolid shot-stopper instinctively prevented Lazaro’s glancing header from hitting the back of the net with a sublime point-blank save.

Unbeaten in eight matches against sides situated in the bottom half of the LaLiga standings, Almeria continued where they left off after the break, as Alex Centelles’ ambitious long-range effort forced Masip into an astute save down to his right.

That strangely seemed to breathe life into Valladolid’s absent attacking assets, as firstly, Darwin Machis’ fearsome strike was expertly tipped behind by Martinez, before Almería’s number one brilliantly got down to prevent Cyle Larin’s effort from nestling into the bottom corner.

Intent on getting his name onto the scoresheet, Lazaro came the closest of anyone in the contest to breaking the deadlock in the 55th minute, but after getting away from the onrushing Masip, the striker could only turn away in dismay as his strike struck the post.

That turned out to be the last piece of significant goalmouth action in a scrappy second half, as a less-than-ideal result for both sides leaves Almeria only one point above the LaLiga trapdoor ahead of their trip to face fellow relegation rivals Espanyol.

Meanwhile, Valladolid remain in the bottom three and know that they must emerge victorious against Getafe, and hope other results go their way, if they are to avoid an immediate return to the second tier of Spanish football.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Jordi Masip (Real Valladolid)

See all the match stats here.

Valencia 2 Espanyol 2

An equaliser for Samuel Lino deep into stoppage time earned Valencia a 2-2 draw against Espanyol at a raucous Mestalla, in the process sending the visitors hurtling into the second tier of Spanish football just two years after regaining elite status.

Coming into the round three points from safety with only two games remaining, Espanyol needed a win more than ever, while Valencia knew that three points might have been enough to secure safety depending on events elsewhere, but this only translated to a nervy start with clear chances proving scarce at either end.

That all changed as the clock hit 38 minutes, with a quickfire brace of goals that changed the complexion of this crucial battle at the bottom.

Out of almost nothing, Diego Lopez was the beneficiary from a rebound and fired in from close range, but his hopes of being a matchwinner were dashed in the short term, as Espanyol levelled within two minutes via Cesar Montes. Showing excellent vision, he ran onto a lofted ball from Leandro Cabrera and headed in from close range.

Espanyol now had the bit between their teeth, and any fears that half-time might have stumped their newfound momentum were quashed within four minutes of the restart.

Once again, a rebound played its role, with substitute Martin Braithwaite the beneficiary and lashing home into the roof of Valencia’s woefully under-guarded net, completing a stunning turnaround at a muted Mestalla in no time at all after his deployment.

With just 30 minutes of Valencia’s home campaign remaining, they were still hovering a mere point above Espanyol and the drop zone itself, and this forced Ruben Baraja into a double-change with a view to exploiting gaps in the wide areas. But frontman Justin Kluivert remained as isolated as ever amidst a sea of pink that even Moses would find difficult to part.

Valencia had referee Jesus Gil Manzano’s eagle eyes to thank in the 78th minute when Montes netted, only for the man in the middle to rule out the Mexican defender’s effort for a foul in the build-up.

Lino broke Espanyol hearts

Almost poetically, Espanyol would be made to rue that unfortunate twist in the third minute of five added on, as Lino weaved into the penalty area past an exhausted Parakeets backline and hit a sumptuous effort into the top-left corner to snatch a point.

While this left the visitors heartbroken, it was but a small consolation for Valencia, who remain in danger of relegation – though the odds of survival are still in their favour.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Cesar Montes (Espanyol)

See all the match stats here.

Cadiz 1 Celta Vigo 0

A third consecutive home victory moved Cadiz to the brink of safety in LaLiga, as a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo put two points between them and the drop zone ahead of the final matchday.

With just two points separating 13th and 18th in the standings, 14th-placed Celta and 17th-placed Cadiz found themselves in serious danger ahead of kick-off. However, the equation was simple for the visitors, who could secure their top-flight status with a game still to spare by beating the Yellow Submarine.

A fractious first period saw referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea brandish five yellow cards and award a penalty. However, the spot-kick was overturned after it was adjudged that Javi Galan had not, in fact, brought down Theo Bongonda illegally.

Cadiz were left feeling hard done by once again when they had a goal disallowed late in the half. Anthony Lozano thought he’d put his relegation-threatened side ahead with a close-range header at the back post, but after a VAR review, the goal was chalked off for offside, leaving things all square at the break.

The hosts had steadily accumulated momentum heading into the interval and continued in similar fashion after the restart to take a deserved lead.

After being slotted in on the left by Gonzalo Escalante, Ruben Sobrino produced a fine finish into the far corner beyond the reach of Celta goalkeeper Ivan Villar.

Even after the introduction of marksman Iago Aspas, the visitors offered precious little going forward and a fightback never looked likely - despite the nine extra minutes of stoppage time.

Just one win from 11 matches puts their top-flight status in jeopardy, with a one-point gap separating them from the drop zone ahead of a final-day showdown with runaway LaLiga winners Barcelona.

Victory was crucial for Cadiz, who face already-relegated Elche on the final day with their fate very much in their own hands.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Ruben Sobrino (Cadiz)

See all the match stats here.

Getafe 2 Osasuna 1

A late strike from Juan Mata gave Getafe three vital points in the race to avoid relegation as they jumped to 14th place with a tight 2-1 win over European hopefuls Osasuna while pushing their undefeated streak to three.

The visitors couldn't have wished for a better start, only needing three minutes to break the deadlock against a desperate Getafe side when “Chimy” Avila took advantage of a perfect set-up from Aridane Hernández to put them in front.

Avila’s goal also made history since it was Osasuna’s fastest goal in LaLiga play since January 2014, and the Argentinian striker could have doubled the lead for the Navarra side, but his effort from the edge of the box in the eighth minute went wide.

Getafe began to push forward as the game progressed, but their lack of ideas was alarming, and they only mustered their first clear chance in the 29th minute via Jaime Mata - the cultured striker nodded an effort slightly wide.

Even so, that piece of play sparked some life into the home side, and Los Azulones managed to even things up only a few minutes before the break, through another aerial sequence. This time, it was Luis Milla who sent a perfect cross into the box, and Juanmi Latasa smashed a header from the penalty spot that left Sergio Herrera helpless.

The 1-1 scoreline moved Getafe out of the relegation zone, and they started the second half with a more aggressive and confident approach, with Portu and Nemanja Maksimovic creating chances during the opening 10 minutes. Osasuna responded via a few more approaches from Avila, but the striker was inaccurate with the end product once again.

Getafe kept pushing but couldn’t generate too many ideas, and not even a flurry of late substitutions from both sides shook things up in the closing stages.

All signs pointed to the game ending in a draw, but Mata had other plans. An icon for the home fans, he came through in the 90th minute and found the back of the net after a huge blunder from Herrera, a goal that gave Getafe three key points in their quest to avoid relegation.

Los Azulones are still not completely safe, but they control their own destiny as they will visit another relegation-threatened side, Real Valladolid, next Sunday. Meanwhile, Osasuna are tied with Athletic Bilbao in the seventh-place race but have the edge over the Basque side thanks to their superior goal difference. Los Rojillos will host Girona next Sunday.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Jaime Mata (Getafe)

See all the match stats here.


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