First Division - Day 26

Villarreal 1 - Valencia 1

Villarreal: López Vallejo; Xavi Roca, Ballesteros, Quique Alvarez (Unai 30'), Arruabarrena; Galca, Cagna (Amor 88'); Jorge López (Escoda 76'), Víctor, Calleja; Pizzi. 4-2-3-1.
Valencia: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Ayala, Pellegrino, Carboni (Fabio Aurelio 69'); Baraja (Aimar 60'), De los Santos; Angulo, Mista (Carew 46'), Vicente; Juan Sánchez. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Villarreal: Xavi Roca, Cagna, Víctor for Galván, Amor, Guayre / Valencia: Carboni, De los Santos, Angulo, Vicente, Juan Sánchez for Fabio Aurelio, Albelda, Rufete, Kily González, Salva.

1-0. 53. Arruabarrena. Flying header from inside area after Galca's corner.
1-1. 85. Aimar. Got ahead of keeper to knock Juan Sánchez pass into net.

Second placed Valencia failed to take full advantage of Madrid's defeat, but still move back to the top of the table after drawing 1-1 against neighbours Villarreal on Saturday evening. The pre-match build up was a friendly affair with the two presidents heading up meetings and social events between the two sides, and the proximity of the two clubs meant that there was a record 20,000 crowd in attendance. However when the game started all that was forgotten, with both sides needing a victory for different reasons, Valencia to keep up their push for the Championship and Villarreal to move away from the lower half of the table. With a UEFA cup match coming up on Tuesday, Rafa Benítez changed his side around, with Sánchez coming in for a rare start for Salva, who was down with flu.

The first half was intense but goal-less, with the hosts getting the better of the play if anything. Benítez changed Mista for Carew at the break, and knowing that Madrid had lost they set out looking for a quick goal. However they fell behind when Arruabarrena got his head to a Galca corner from the left, and appeared to be heading for another defeat in a ground where they have never won in the first division. However an over-zealous Téllez Sánchez sent off Víctor with two rigorous yellow cards in the space of a minute, the second for an accidental hand ball, and Benítez took advantage of an injury to Baraja to bring on the more attacking Aimar. The Argentine international was the inspiration the manager needed, and he grabbed the equalising goal getting ahead of López Vallejo to steer Sánchez's cross into the net five minutes from the end. Not an ideal result for either side, but a point shared between neighbours which took the visitors back up to the top and kept the home side's heads above water for the time being. That will do for now.