|First Division - Day 36|
Real Sociedad 1 - Valencia 1
Westerveld; López Rekarte, Kvarme, Jauregi, Boris; Xabi Alonso,
Aranburu (Mikel Alonso 81'); Karpin, Nihat (Khokhlov 86'), De Pedro (Gabilondo
76'); Kovacevic. 4-2-3-1.
Team changes: Real: No change / Valencia: Navarro, Albelda, Revellière for Pellegrino, Djukic, Fabio Aurelio.
The league title race is still wide open after Real Sociedad and Valencia drew 1-1 on Sunday evening. After Real Madrid's draw the night before, the San Sebastian side had a golden opportunity to open up a four point gap over their rivals. With the exception of Atanzábal, Denoueix could count on his first choice line up, whereas Rafa Benítez was missing several key players and had to draft in young defender David Navarro at right back to enable Revellière to move forward to the right wing.
However the locals were fighting for their Champions League place, and were not prepared to give up the fight too easily. Aimar tested Cañizares with a free kick, and later in the half Baraja came from behind to head a corner just wide of goal. As usual, Nihat was the most active player in the Real side, forcing two good saves out of Cañizares, the first from a free kick which Ayala cleared from under the nose of Karpin on the rebound and the second a shot which the keeper turned away for a corner.
With half an hour on the clock Xabi Alonso put the Basques in front, heading home Karpin's corner from an unmarked position. But two minutes later Revellière made it all square, connecting with an Aimar free kick from the left to fire in a shot which took a deflection off Jauregi.
The visitors decided a point was enough and defended their position in the second half. However a quarter of an hour in they lost Ayala, who was shown a second yellow card by referee Turienzo Alvarez for handling the ball. Benítez took off his creator Aimar to put on De los Santos and things remained the same, although Kovacevic could have won it in the last minute when he just failed to get on the end of Xavi Alonso's cross. Real stay on top, but if they don't win the league they will look back on this game as an opportunity lost.