First Division - Day 30

Rayo Vallecano 2 - Valencia 1

Rayo: Imanol Etxeberria; Corino, Hernández (Helder 85'), De Quintana, Graff; Pablo Sanz, Quevedo; Ferrón (Vivar Dorado 70'), Peragón, Michel; Bolic (Glaucio 76'). 4-2-3-1.
Valencia: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Ayala, Pellegrino, Carboni (Fabio Aurelio 55'); Angulo, Marchena (Aimar 63'), De los Santos, Vicente; Juan Sánchez, Salva (Mista 76'). 4-4-2.

Team changes: Rayo: Hernández, Pablo Sanz for Vivar Dorado, Helder / Valencia: Angulo, Marchena, De los Santos, Vicente, Salva for Albelda, Rufete, Kily González, Aimar, Carew.

0-1. 28. Angulo. Headed Salva centre past keeper in off far post.
1-1. 45. Pellegrino (own goal). Headed ball over Cañizares from corner on left.
2-1. 57. Corino. Headed down into net from corner taken from left of goal.

Last week's leaders Valencia lost the chance to open up a gap at the top when they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of bottom club Rayo Vallecano. Coming in to the game only three days after their epic UEFA cup tie at Inter Milan, and with the second leg due next Thursday, Rafa Benítez left Albelda, Rufete, Carew and Aimar out of the starting line up. Kily González was also missing through suspension, and Vicente got another run out on the left wing. Gregorio Manzano had problems in defence, where Hernández came back for his first appearance in several months. It was difficult to believe that nineteen places separated these two teams as Rayo put the visitors under pressure right from the start. A superb Michel forced Cañizares into two saves in the first twenty minutes and also hit the bar with a direct free kick. However Angulo gave the visitors the lead just before the half hour mark, heading a Salva centre wide of Etxeberria.

Rayo didn't give up though, and Bolic felt hard done by when he was brought down twice in quick succession in the penalty area by Ayala and then Curro Torres, Turienzo Alvarez waving play on in both cases. Valencia could have extended their lead when Etxeberria pushed Vicente's free kick on to the post, and Juan Sánchez got the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out by the referee for offside. However the Madrid based side drew level unexpectedly just before the break when Pellegrino headed Michel's corner past his own keeper, the first goal Cañizares had let in for over six hours in the league. Cañizares kept Valencia in the game with some good saves as the home side kept up the pressure, but Corino beat him with another header, the visiting players protesting to the referee that they had been distracted by a flare which fell on the pitch as the corner came over from the left. Ten minutes later Rayo were reduced to ten men when Pablo Sanz was sent off for a second bookable offence, but they held on to take a valuable three points which moves them off the bottom of the table.