Valencia players left the new San Mames on Thursday deeply hurt and angered, after poor referring had cost them the win against Athletic Bilbao.
After a stalemate in the first half, Valencia broke the deadlock through Rodrigo De Paul in the 60th minute. The Argentine youngster came on as an early sub after Pablo Piatti picked up an injury before half time.
It took a special effort to breach the Bilbao defence. After neat footwork from Rodrigo down the left, the former Benfica forward squared off Paco Alcacer, who flummoxed two Bilbao defenders with a sublime dummy leaving it for De Paul to pick his spot and hit the net.
The first half was shockingly poor with neither side creating enough clear cut goal scoring chances. Paco came close with a strike from outside the box, but Rodrigo failed to connect on the rebound.
The Basque side created a few good chances after the break. Diego Alves produced a spectacular one-handed save off Xabier Etxeita’s header from a corner and minutes later Los Che had a narrow escape when Aritz Aduriz’s goal-bound header was cleared off the line by Otamendi.
The Argentine defender has been sensational throughout for Valencia. He made five tackles in the match and made 11 clearances. No wonder why he is being repeatedly watched by Manchester United scouts this season.
It was all going well until referee Fernando Teixiera’s double blunders changed the complexion of the match. Otamendi was wrongly sent off for winning the ball in a 50-50 challenge with Mikel San Jose, before Aduriz equalised from an offside position in the dying minutes of the match.
Nuno, understandably frustrated, has demanded a public apology from the ref, while several Valencia players expressed their natural disappointment.
“We’ve had to put up with too many unfair situations that we don’t deserve. The players are outraged. They have clearly been hurt by a very obvious refereeing mistake. There are too many moments of injustice but we are not going to stop fighting.”
Otamendi said after the match that the team is “angered and hurt” while Diego Alves echoing on similar lines added “what happened today is beyond all understanding”.
Other Major Talking Points
- Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 300th goal for Real Madrid as Los Blancos earned a comfortable 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Vallecas. James Rodriguez was the star of the show: the Colombian produced two moments of sublime quality to seal the tie in Madrid’s favour. His through pass to pick Ronaldo was an absolute gem and his curled effort put the game beyond doubt.
- More on Ronaldo – the former Manchester United superstar joins Raul and Alfredo di Stefano as the only players to have scored 300 goals for Los Blancos. And it is indeed a remarkable achievement considering he has been at Madrid for less than six years and achieved this feat in only 288 games.
- Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were on target as Barcelona stay in control of the La Liga title race after beating Almeria 4-0 at the Camp Nou. The Blaugrana are on a roll here winning their ninth league match in a row and 20 out of their last 21 matches in all competitions.
- Messi scored a sensational goal with a curling effort from the right from a near impossible angle, but it was Luis Suarez’s breathtaking strike into the top corner from 18 yards that left everyone mesmerised. Despite missing six months of action due to suspension, he has scored 16 goals this season and registered 10 assists to his name, more than goals combined by Liverpool’s top scorers – Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.
- Antoine Griezmann scored against his former club, as Atletico Madrid beat Real Sociedad 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon. It was the Frenchman’s 16th goal in La Liga and 19 overall this season.
- Atletico have had gone through various low phases in the past decade, but their fans are always habituated seeing some of the world’s best forwards play for them. The likes of Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa et al have all graced the green blades of Calderon. Griezmann and Mandzukic may not have reached the dizzy height set by their predecessors, but collectively they have been brilliant, scoring 28 goals in the league.
- Elsewhere, Espanyol produced at shock result at El Madrigal winning 3-0 against Villarreal. Since their Europa League win against Salzburg, the Yellow Submarines have won only once in their last nine games, losing five of them.
- As it stands, the title race will go down to the wire between Real Madrid and Barcelona, while Atletico will comfortably secure the third position. Villarreal have gone off the boil leaving Valencia and Sevilla (one point separate between them) to fight for the final Champions League place.