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La Liga: Alaves go fourth with victory over troubled Valencia

Last updated on: January 06, 2019 06:52 IST

Deportivo Alaves players celebrate after scoring against Valencia on Saturday

IMAGE: Deportivo Alaves players celebrate after scoring against Valencia on Saturday. Photograph: Deportivo Alaves/Twitter

Alaves continued their excellent home form by recovering to beat struggling Spanish powerhouse Valencia 2-1 on Saturday, climbing into fourth place in La Liga and boosting their chances of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time.

Valencia captain Dani Parejo gave the visitors the lead with a swerving free kick in the 14th minute but Alaves, who are the only side in Spain's top flight alongside Atletico Madrid to still be unbeaten at home this season, soon hit back.

Striker Borja Baston pulled the 2001 UEFA Cup runners-up level in the 21st with a scrappy, deflected shot from inside the area, while midfielder Tomas Pina put Alaves ahead in first-half stoppage time after a period of heavy pressure.

 

The win took Alaves to 31 points from 18 games, one ahead of European champions Real Madrid who host Real Sociedad on Sunday, and saw the Basques reach their highest points total in the first half of a La Liga season.

Valencia, who finished fourth last year, are 11th on 22 points after a defeat that will pile more pressure on coach Marcelino, who last month faced calls from fans to be sacked.

Struggling Rayo win at Valladolid after late penalty save

Rayo

La Liga strugglers Rayo Vallecano grabbed a nervy 1-0 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday to boost their chances of top-flight survival, although they had to rely on a late penalty save to take all three points.

Midfielder Alvaro Medran gave the Madrid minnows a perfect start by scoring after 29 seconds, finishing off a smart team move from close range to score the fastest goal of the season so far in La Liga.

Valladolid, who are 14th and without a home league win since October, were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute but Rayo's Macedonian goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski guessed the right way to palm midfielder Michel's spot-kick away.

Rayo, who are second-bottom still had to withstand a series of hurried late attacks from the hosts but held on to claim a second consecutive victory for the first time this season.

The win took them level on 16 points with the two teams above them, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal, who are both in action later this weekend.

Valverde says Barca future depends on winning trophies

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Saturday he was open to staying at the club beyond this season but will wait until the end of the campaign to decide his future, which he added would depend on whether his side win trophies.

Valverde lifted a Liga and Copa del Rey double last year and his side are currently three points clear at the top of the table after 17 games and have reached the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will play Olympique Lyonnais.

Despite those successes, the coach sparked speculation about his future last week by saying in an interview with Barca's official TV channel that he did not know where he would be next season.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Barcelona's trip to Getafe on Sunday, Valverde sought to clarify his future, stating that while his contract with the club expires in June his deal contains the option for a third season.

"I have a contract with the club which was two years plus an optional and at the end of the season we have to decide whether I continue or not," he said.

"We will postpone that decision for further down the line, depending on how the season goes."

Even given his highly impressive domestic record since taking charge of the club in June 2017, Valverde does not enjoy the resounding backing of Barca supporters which predeccessors such as Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique could count on.

He also came in for fierce criticism for the team's shock elimination from the Champions League to AS Roma in the quarter-finals last season after squandering a 4-1 first-leg lead.

"We are not yet halfway through the season but if things go well I'd be happy to stay, although it's not only my decision," added Valverde.

"We all know how management works. If you don't win things, as has happened before, people start to call for your head. But I feel good here, as I have since the start."

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