Apoño strikes twice as nine-man Zaragoza stun Valencia
Primera Liga basement side Real Zaragoza left third-placed Valencia shell-shocked after coming from behind to win 2-1 at the Mestalla.
Struggling Zaragoza, who have propped up La Liga since early December, looked to be heading for their 17th defeat of the season when Pablo Hernandez steered home Roberto Soldado’s cross after nine minutes. It got worse for Manolo Jimenez’s side when Pablo Alvarez was shown a straight red card for a foul on Aritz Aduriz with only 21 minutes on the clock.
Valencia’s Angel Dealbert fouled Carlos Aranda nine minutes later and Apono, the midfielder on loan from Malaga, made no mistake from the penalty spot. The home side continued to dominate, but were wasteful in front of goal and were made to pay when Apono crashed a left-foot shot into the top left-hand corner from the edge of the area.
Zaragoza had Franco Zuculini sent off for a second booking after he fouled Jordi Alba, but the nine men held out to register only their fifth win of the season and a vital three points in their quest for survival. Despite the win, Zaragoza remain six points adrift of safety, and Jimenez acknowledged afterwards that his men need to play with the same intensity in every game until the end of the season to have any chance of staying up.
“It was an important victory against a great team and has come because of the courage of a team that played 70 minutes with ten men against a Valencia side with all their strengths,” said the Zaragoza boss. “The players deserve a win like this. Valencia have been surprised by a bottom side which played with pride.”
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