First Division - Day 11

Valencia 2 - Rayo Vallecano 1

Valencia: Palop; Curro Torres, Ayala, Pellegrino, Carboni; Rufete, Albelda (Marchena 90'), Kily González (Vicente 70'); Aimar (Mista 83'); Juan Sánchez, Salva Ballesta. 4-3-1-2.
Rayo: Lopetegui; Mainz, Cota, De Quintana, Graff; Pablo Sanz (Arteaga 52'), Helder; Glaucio, Peragón (Roy 57'), Michel; Bolic (Hernández 75'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Valencia: Juan Sánchez for Marchena / Rayo: Cota, Michel for Corino, Arteaga.

1-0. 23. Salva. On goal line after Lopetegui missed Rufete cross from right.
1-1. 37. Peragón (penalty). After Palop ruled to have brought down Michel.
2-1. 88. Juan Sánchez. Following up after Lopetegui pushed away Salva header.

Valencia moved up to second place two points behind Depor with a late 2-1 victory over bottom club Rayo Vallecano. After their crushing win in the UEFA cup on Thursday night, Rafa Benítez stuck to a similar side, with Argentine internationals Ayala, Kily González and Aimar all keeping their places before going on to play for their country next week. Salva came back in to the starting line up after sitting the match out midweek, and he opened the scoring in the first half after Lopetegui failed to get hold of Rufete's low cross. Rayo were giving as good as they got though, and Peragón levelled the scores later in the half with a controversial penalty after referee Losantos Omar ruled that Palop had brought down Michel.

The home side started strongly after the restart, and they had a chance to reestablish their lead when Losantos awarded a second penalty on Juan Sánchez. However Lopetegui saved Salva's kick after some gamesmanship by the keeper, and the two kept up a verbal battle from then on. Manzano settled for the draw and replaced lone striker Bolic with a defender, but with two minutes left to go Sánchez finally forced the ball in to the net to secure Valencia's eleven match unbeaten run, their best ever start to the season.

The downside was what looked like a horrendous injury to Albelda at the end of the match, the international midfielder leaving the field on a stretcher with his foot covered in blood, although it appeared that it was not as serious as it looked in the end. Rayo were unlucky to lose, but with Mallorca and Real Sociedad both winning they are now three points adrift at the bottom. They are hoping to have Real Madrid forward Baljic on loan as from next week, and with Michel joining the long injury list it will not be a moment too soon.