Valencia fail to move joint-top in La Liga after a draw


Valencia missed the chance to move level with Primera Division leaders Barcelona after drawing 1-1 against a much-improved Real Sociedad side at Anoeta. Carles Gil volleyed the visitors in front in the first half against the run of play, but former Valencia player Sergio Canales levelled for La Real in the 37th minute. Both sides could have won it in the second period and Canales came agonisingly close to snatching a last-minute winner, but saw his bouncing shot cleared off the line. The result means Valencia's stint at the top of the table proved to be short-lived and they now share second place with Atletico Madrid, while La Real brought a two-game losing streak to a halt. Perhaps motivated to get a result following the defeats to Almeria and Sevilla, La Real came out of the traps far quicker than the visitors, who relied on two excellent saves from goalkeeper Diego Alves from Carlos Vela and then Imanol Agirretxe to keep the game goalless early on. However, despite their poor start, Valencia took the lead with a quarter of an hour played. Top scorer Paco Alcacer turned provider on this occasion, heading a cross away from goal and towards the penalty spot, where Gil volleyed home to score his first goal for Valencia's first team. La Real dug even deeper in search of an equaliser and Alves made two more key interventions, but was eventually beaten eight minutes before half-time. Canales sent in a cross from the left which evaded the outstretched Agirretxe and bounced off the post and into the net. Valencia boss Nuno Espirito Santo made a double change at half-time, bringing off Gil and Andre Gomes and replacing them with Sofiane Feghouli and Felipe Augusto. The hosts continued to have the better of the play, yet Valencia came close to taking the lead again. Alcacer was inches away from connecting with a Rodrigo cross following a quick counter, and then Augusto saw a shot deflected just wide by Inigo Martinez. However, in injury time La Real came to within inches of getting the winner. First Canales volleyed a loose ball towards goal but Mustafi Shkrodan got in the way to send the ball out for a corner, from which Esteban Granero headed just wide of the near post.