First Division - Day 17

Valencia 2 - Real Sociedad 2

Valencia: Palop; Curro Torres (Garrido 44'), Ayala, Pellegrino, Carboni; Baraja, Marchena; Rufete (Juan Sánchez 87'), Mista (Vicente 78'), Fabio Aurelio; Carew. 4-2-3-1.
Real Sociedad: Westerveld; López Rekarte, Kvarme, Schürrer (Tayfun 93'), Aranzábal; Jauregi, Boris (De Paula 73'); Karpin, Nihat, Gabilondo (Barkero 59'); Kovacevic. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Valencia: Marchena, Mista for Albelda, Aimar / Real: Kvarme, Boris, Gabilondo, Kovacevic for Tayfun, Aranburu, Barkero, Khokhlov.

1-0. 18. Fabio Aurelio. Placed long header down past keeper from Torres cross
2-0. 61. Aranzábal (own goal). Passed back to Westerveld who wasn't there.
2-1. 69. Kovacevic. Controlled long pass in from Nihat to shoot under Palop.
2-2. 79. Nihat. Took pass from Schürrer and fired dipping shot across keeper.

Real Sociedad recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Valencia and extend their incredible unbeaten record to seventeen games this season. The Basque side appeared to be down and out after a silly own goal by Aranzábal in the second half left them trailing, but their fighting spirit showed through and they were able to save a point which keeps them just ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

Raynald Denoueix changed his side around for this game, moving Jauregi into midfield and including Kvarme in the back four. He was still missing his midfield inspiration Xabi Alonso, likely to be out for a month or so, but Kovacevic was at least back from suspension. Rafa Benítez brought in Mista to replace his key player Aimar, whose one match ban was confirmed when the disciplinary committee turned down an appeal, and Cañizares returned to the squad after missing the last five games with a knee injury. The manager decided to keep Palop in goal though, and the Spanish international took a place on the bench.

Valencia were desperate for a win after defeats against Deportivo and Real Madrid, and they felt hard done by when referee Rubinos Pérez turned down an early appeal for a penalty when Schürrer brought down Rufete. They did take the lead though a few minutes later when Fabio Aurelio steered a long header down past Westerveld after a cross in by Curro Torres. Before half time though Torres was stretchered off the field with a knee ligament injury which is likely to keep him out for several weeks.

A quarter of an hour into the second half disaster struck for the visitors when Aranzábal played a long back pass towards his keeper from left of midfield without really checking if he was there. Westerveld though had left his goal for some reason and dashed back just in time to see the ball roll into the net. The game seemed to be up, but the Basque side had come from behind four times already this season, and were not going to give up easily. More determined than ever they threw everything forward, and eight minutes later Nihat found Kovacevic with a long pass for him to beat Pellegrino and shoot past Palop.

All of a sudden every shirt appeared to be red, and Denoueix brought on De Paula to join the attack. Palop blocked a shot from Kovacevic, Nihat shot over the bar, and then with ten minutes to go they got the goal they were looking for when Schürrer put Nihat away for him to volley a dipping shot under Palop. But now it was Valencia's turn, and Carew thought he had hit the winner when he held off Kvarme to roll the ball past Westerveld. There was an uproar though when Rubinos Pérez ruled that the Norwegian striker had fouled Kvarme on the way through, and disallowed the goal. There wasn't time for much more, and Valencia had to make do with a point which leaves them even further behind their championship rivals, the two Reals.