All square in Valencia derby


Valencia squandered a lead for the fourth consecutive time at home as city rivals Levante took a share of the points with a 1-1 draw at the Mestalla.

Jonas Goncalves sealed an impressive move to put Los Che in front 10 minutes before half-time, but Levante levelled eight minutes after the interval ,Valdo heading Jose Barkero’s cross into the path of Arouna Kone for the Ivorian to drill home his 11th Liga strike this season.

Valencia’s form has dipped dramatically since the turn of the year, with Unai Emery’s men having now won only once in six Liga starts at home in 2012. Many of those matches have seen them start brightly, only to fail to convert their dominance into goals.

It was the same against Levante, who had already been beaten by their neighbours in three Liga and Copa encounters this season. Valencia should have been in front on 11 minutes but Dani Parejo somehow fired his shot over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

Levante also missed chances. Barkero’s curling free-kick was just too high, while Kone should have done better when he pulled a shot wide. Either side could ultimately have stolen all three points in a furious final 10 minutes. Kone poked Pedro Botelho’s cross inches wide before Valencia substitute Paco Alcacer headed straight at goalkeeper Gustavo Munua.

Valencia are being pushed hard for third place in La Liga, where they remain thanks only to Malaga’s surprise loss to Real Betis. Without star striker Roberto Soldado, Emery was pleased with neither the result nor the performance against Levante, and was frustrated with his team’s inability to get a second goal to kill off a game he believed his men had dominated.

“A draw is a bad result and we are not satisfied. The fans said as much at in the end, even though they supported us during the game,” Emery said after the match. “They (Levante) have had the patience and ability to counter-attack, but we controlled the game. I have no fear of losing our Champions League place, but I have an obligation to change this situation and find solutions. We have the advantage that others are behind us, but we need a win to push us on.”

Meanwhile, Levante have maintained their position in and around the Champions League places in La Liga throughout the campaign and Coach Juan Ignacio Martinez is confident they will still be there at the end of the season after their performance at the Mestalla.

“Clearly, we dream of playing in Europe,” the Coach said. “What we showed today against a team like Valencia makes us believe that we can dream. We have 45 points and we are in a privileged position. We started the season well, we have not broken down and we want to make a good final sprint to end the season.”

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