First Division - Day 24

Alavés 1 - Valencia 2

Alavés: Kike; Geli, Coloccini, Téllez, Llorens; Turiel (Magno 46'), Pablo; Astudillo, Jordi Cruyff (Vucko 75'), Ibon Begoña (Iván Alonso 60'); Rubén Navarro. 4-2-3-1.
Valencia: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Djukic, Pellegrino, Carboni; Albelda, De los Santos; Angulo (Rufete 85'), Aimar (Mista 69'), Vicente; Carew (Kily González 88'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Alavés: No change / Valencia: Djukic, De los Santos, Angulo, Aimar, Vicente, Carew for Ayala, Baraja, Rufete, Mista, Kily González, Salva.

1-0. 02. Astudillo. Far post header after cross from Ibon Begoña.
1-1. 03. De los Santos. Took pass from Aimar and beat Kike with low shot.
1-2. 29. Carew. Lifted ball over keeper from outside area after defence mix-up.

Valencia became the seventh team to top the first division this season after coming from behind to beat Alavés 1-2. The tactics of the two managers could not have been more different, Mané deciding to play an unchanged side from the team who beat Deportivo at the weekend, and Rafa Benítez making six changes to his starting line up, with Ayala and Baraja suspended and Carew coming in up front after not even making the 18 man squad in the last three matches. Temperatures in Vitoria were close to freezing, with bad weather throughout the game. However things soon warmed up when Astudillo put the home side in front in the first minute, heading Ibon Begoña's cross down past Cañizares, and De los Santos levelled the scores a minute later with a low shot into the corner of the net.

Things quietened down a bit as the two sides got their breath back, but on the half hour mark Valencia went in to the lead after a mix up between Kike and Llorens on the edge of the area let in Carew to lob the ball over their heads into the empty net. It was the big striker's first goal of the season, and hopefully signals his return to form after his frustrated move to Fulham fell through. Mané gradually brought on more attacking players in the second half, with Magno coming on at the break and Iván Alonso and then Vucko later on. Carew had a goal disallowed for a previous foul and Magno shot over the bar after Pablo set him up, and then three minutes from the end Alavés were awarded a penalty when Djukic brought down Vucko. However Cañizares guessed right, and dived to his left to stop the shot from Llorens. Valencia go two points clear at the top, and although Alavés are still only three points behind them, they drop to sixth.