First Division - Day 16

Betis 0 - Valencia 1

Betis: Contreras; Varela, Juanito, Rivas, Mingo (Benjamín 77'); Arzu (Cañas 80'), Ito; Joaquín, Capi, Ismael (Tote 57'); Dani (Palermo 57'). 4-2-3-1.
Valencia: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Ayala, Marchena, Carboni; Albelda, Sissoko; Jorge López, Aimar (Baraja 85'), Vicente (Angulo 65'); Mista (Xisco 72'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Betis: Varela for Lembo / Valencia: Sissoko for Baraja.

0-1. 17. Juanito (own goal). Deflected Jorge López free kick into own net off knee.

Valencia keep in touch with leaders Real Madrid after a 0-1 win over a Betis side who were hoping to build on their win at Real Sociedad in their previous game, but who in the end slipped back down to within three points of the relegation spots.

The hosts started well and almost took the lead when Rivas went close with a header from Joaquín's free kick. But with a quarter of an hour on the clock they went behind with a freak goal, Jorge López's free kick striking Juanito on the leg and flying into the top of the net over Contreras.

The Andalucians were unable to reply against a well ordered defence, despite the introduction of Tote and Palermo in the second half. Only another header from Rivas and an effort from Tote troubled Cañizares, and Valencia should have increased their lead when an excellent Aimar took a return pass from Jorge López to find the net, only to see it ruled out for a non existent offside by referee Teixeira Vitienes.

The visitors kept up the pressure on the counter-attack, and Albelda, Angulo and Xisco all failed to take their chances later on. But it was another important win for Rafa Benítez's side, and they stay just two points behind Real Madrid at the top.