First Division - Day 18

Valencia 4 - Villarreal 2

Valencia: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Ayala, Marchena, Carboni; Albelda (Pellegrino 90'), Baraja; Jorge López (Angulo 70'), Aimar (Oliveira 76'), Vicente; Mista. 4-2-3-1.
Villarreal: Reina; Belletti, Ballesteros, Coloccini, Arruabarrena; Josico, Pedro Martí; Guayre (Battaglia 70'), Riquelme (Javi Venta 74'), José Marí; Sonny Anderson (Víctor 67'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Valencia: Carboni for Garrido / Villarreal: Belletti, Pedro Martí for Quique Alvarez, Roger.

0-1. 14. Riquelme. Struck free kick over defensive wall and into top of net.
1-1. 57. Baraja. Bent bouncing free kick round wall past unsighted Reina.
2-1. 58. Aimar. Took return pass from Mista and fired shot wide of keeper.
3-1. 73. Baraja. Picked up Albelda headed pass to score from close up.
3-2. 78. Belletti. Ran on to Víctor's back-heel pass to shoot low past Cañizares.
4-2. 87. Mista. Turned ball into net from close up after Olivera crossed in from left.

Valencia kept up the pressure on leaders Real Madrid with a 4-2 victory over East coast neighbours Villarreal. Rafa Benítez's side found themselves behind on the quarter hour mark when an excellent Riquelme beat Cañizares with a well struck free kick. The Argentine midfielder showed his class in the opening minutes, although he was gradually cancelled out as the locals took control, and by the break Valencia were starting to cause problems for Reina.

The turning point came though in a ten minute period in the second half, Baraja catching the keeper off guard with a wickedly bouncing free kick to level the scores, and Aimar racing on to a return ball from Mista a minute later to fire his side ahead. And when Ballesteros was sent off by referee Tristante Oliva for kicking out at Marchena from the floor after a "riffi-raffi" between the two, it seemed to be all over.

Baraja got his second of the night and his team's third a few minutes later, but Belletti reduced the gap back to one goal after substitute Víctor set him up with a brilliant back-heel which caught the defence napping. And there were a few nervous moments before Mista finally turned in Oliveira's cross three minutes from the end to wrap things up.