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Rediff.com  » Sports » La Liga PHOTOS: Real Madrid's title chances hit after draw with Valencia

La Liga PHOTOS: Real Madrid's title chances hit after draw with Valencia

May 05, 2014 10:20 IST

La Liga PHOTOS: Real Madrid's title chances hit after draw with Valencia

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Real Madrid failed to take full advantage of slip-ups by leaders Atletico Madrid and Barcelona and needed a Cristiano Ronaldo volley in stoppage time to rescue a 2-2 home draw with Valencia on Sunday.

A Real win would have put them level on 85 points with second-placed Barca, who drew 2-2 at Getafe on Saturday, with a game in hand but they stayed third on 83 points with three games left.

Atletico, who like Barca have two matches remaining including the meeting between the teams at the Nou Camp on the final day of the season, are top on 88 points after they lost 2-0 at Levante earlier on Sunday.

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Image: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after scoring against Valencia
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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Ronaldo saves the day for Real

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Valencia took a surprise lead in the 44th minute at the Bernabeu when Jeremy Mathieu nodded in a Dani Parejo corner before Sergio Ramos levelled with another header in the 59th.

Parejo, a former Real player, smashed in a loose ball to restore the visitors' lead six minutes later as Valencia looked to become the first team to win at both Real and Barca in the same season since Real Mallorca in 2002-03.

But Ronaldo produced a brilliant piece of skill to volley in Angel Di Maria's centre in the second minute of added time and salvage a point for the home side.

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Image: Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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Atletico suffer shock defeat at Levante

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Atletico Madrid squandered a chance to all-but wrap up their first La Liga title since 1996 when they slumped to a surprise 2-0 defeat by Levante on Sunday.

Victory for Atletico in Valencia would have meant they needed only a win at home to Malaga next weekend to secure top spot and render their final match at Barcelona the following week irrelevant.

However, an own goal from Filipe Luis in the seventh minute and a neat finish from David Barral 21 minutes from time meant Atletico failed to take advantage of Barca's 2-2 draw at home to Getafe on Saturday.

With two games left, Atletico lead on 88 points, three ahead of second-placed Barca. Real Madrid, on 82 points in third, have two games in hand, a match at home to Valencia later on Sunday and a trip to Real Valladolid on Wednesday.

Under coach Diego Simeone, Atletico are mounting their first genuine title challenge since they won a La Liga and King’s Cup double in 1996 with a team featuring the inspirational former Argentina captain.

In one of the best seasons in their history, they are also through to the Champions League final to play Real this month thanks to Wednesday’s superb 3-1 win at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium.

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Image: Diego Costa of Atletico de Madrid (right) reacts with teammate Adrian Lopez (left) after Levante's second goal
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Simeone's players flatter to deceive

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Simeone's players did not seem to be feeling the effects of their exertions in London and started the Levante match with their usual intensity but fell behind when the ball ricocheted off Filipe’s chest at a corner and squirmed over the line.

A dominant Atletico had plenty of chances for an equaliser, including a Filipe shot cleared off the line by Levante defender Loukas Vyntra in the 63rd minute, before Barral controlled a cross from the left and fired past Thibaut Courtois.

Substitute Adrian curled a shot on to a post 13 minutes from time but Levante comfortably held out to climb above Rayo Vallecano to 10th on 45 points.

Tempers frayed at the end and there was a brief bout of pushing and shoving involving players from both sides but it quickly petered out and the disconsolate Atletico players trudged off as the Levante fans celebrated.

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Image: Head coach Diego Pablo Simeone of Atletico de Madrid looks uneasy during the La Liga match
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Barcelona face first season without any major silverware in six years

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Barcelona were left facing their first season without any major silverware in six years after they conceded in the second minute of added time in a tepid 2-2 La Liga draw at home to lowly Getafe on Saturday.

Barca captain Xavi conceded that a fifth La Liga title in six years was next to impossible for the Catalan giants and had some harsh criticism for himself and his team mates.

"It will take a miracle to win the league now and we are really down," the Spain playmaker told reporters. "We have not had a good season and we were not competitive in many areas.

"We have to forget about this season and take a good look at ourselves. We have to improve a lot of things."

At the start of April Barca were well placed to repeat their record treble of La Liga, Champions League and King's Cup from 2008-09 but are now likely to end the campaign with nothing more than the season-opening Spanish Super Cup.

They were dumped out of Europe's elite club competition by Atletico last month and a week later Real beat them 2-1 in the final of the King's Cup.

The defeats capped a miserable season that also included the resignation of president Sandro Rosell over alleged irregularities in the signing of Brazil forward Neymar and the death of former coach Tito Vilanova from throat cancer.

Failure to win a major title will increase the pressure on Gerardo Martino in his first season in charge after succeeding Vilanova and there has been widespread speculation he will leave at the end of the campaign halfway through a two-year contract.

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Image: Angel Latifa (centre) of Getafe celebrates after scoring his team's second goal
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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Barca players and fans pay moving tribute to Vilanova

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The Barca players and fans paid a moving tribute to Vilanova before kick-off on Saturday and the match initially appeared to be going according to plan.

Lionel Messi, who played under Vilanova as a teenager in the club's academy, made it 1-0 in the 23rd minute when he stroked a Dani Alves centre high into the net. It was the Argentina forward's 28th goal of an injury-disrupted campaign, three fewer than La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo of Real and one more than Atletico forward Diego Costa.

Getafe snatched the first of two surprise equalisers eight minutes before the break whenAngel Lafita chested the ball down in the area and fired low past goalkeeper Jose Manue Pinto. 

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Image: Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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Barca unable to turn dominance into the goals

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Barcelona continued to dominate after half-time without creating many clear chances, although Messi forced a fine save from Julio Cesar and the ball ricocheted off Alexis Sanchez on to the bar. The introduction of Barca's Spain playmaker Cesc Fabregas just after the hour gave them some extra zip and it was his cross that eventually found its way to Alexis in the 67th and the Chile forward fired a first-time effort into the corner.

Barca were again guilty of failing to turn dominance into the goals that would have killed off the game and Jaime Gavilan found space on the left in the 92nd minute and crossed for Lafit to head superbly past Pinto.


Image: Lionel Messi (centre) and the Barcelona players shows their dejection after Angel Latifa scores Getafe's second goal
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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