First Division - Day 32

Tenerife 0 - Valencia 1

Tenerife: Julio Iglesias; Manel, Lussenhoff, Alexis, Basavilbaso; Bino, Jaime (Hugo Morales 61'); Javi Venta (Jordi 75'), Martí, Javi López (Xisco 52'); Bruno Marioni. 4-2-3-1.
Valencia: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Djukic, Marchena, Carboni; Albelda, Baraja; Rufete, Aimar (Juan Sánchez 85'), Vicente (Fabio Aurelio 80'); Angulo (Mista 72'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Valencia: Marchena, Carboni, Vicente, Aimar for Pellegrino, Fabio Aurelio, Kily González, Mista / Tenerife: Manel, Jaime for David Charcos, Bermudo.

1-0. 78. Aimar. Shot from 30 yards out which went in off the far post.

A brilliant goal by Pablo Aimar gave Valencia a 0-1 victory over Tenerife to keep them level with Real Madrid at the top of the table, still in the hunt for their first league title since 1971. Aimar picked up a ball just over the halfway line and ran on to fire a shot into the net via the far post from thirty yards out to settle the tie in his side's favour. The goal came as a relief for Rafa Benítez's team, who had made all the plays but once again had been able to find the route to goal. Benítez tried a new attacking combination this week, counting on the speed of Aimar and Angulo to try and increase their poor scoring record for the season. They were lacking a finisher though, and their frustrations grew as Clemente's defence kept them out, inspired by keeper Julio Iglesias and by Alexis, who cleared an Aimar effort off the line in the first half. Aimar himself hit the crossbar with an inswinging corner before the break, and Rufete missed the chance of the match ten minutes after the restart from only a yard out.

Tenerife had started well though, with Cañizares saving from Martí in the first minute and Djukic cutting out a shot from Marioni soon afterwards. As the game wore on though Marioni was left alone by his colleagues, and although he did his best he was unable by himself to make an inroad into a makeshift Valencia defence in which Djukic and Marchena lined up for the first time this season after injuries to Ayala and Pellegrino. Clemente brought on Xisco and then Hugo Morales to help him in the second half, but by then Valencia were in full swing and Benítez made changes after the goal to protect their advantage. In the dying minutes Lussenhoff added to the manager's woes when he got himself sent off for a flying elbow, and with Marioni, Hugo Morales and Manel all likely to be suspended next week as well after picking up their fifth yellow cards of the season, they could have problems putting together a competitive side for the visit to Málaga next week. Their second defeat in a row leaves them two points adrift at the bottom of the table, and they must now be one of the favourites for the drop. Valencia and Madrid open up a four point gap over third placed Deportivo, and it is looking ever more like a two horse race for the title this season.