First Division - Day 23

Valencia 1 - Deportivo La Coruña 2

Valencia: Palop; Carboni, Caneira, Marchena, Moretti (Xisco 80'); Albelda, Baraja; Rufete (Aimar 69'), Di Vaio, Fabio Aurelio; Corradi (Mista 46'). 4-2-3-1.
Deportivo: Munúa; Manuel Pablo, Andrade, Coloccini, Romero; Sergio, Duscher; Scaloni (Víctor 69'), Valerón, Luque (Munitis 61'); Diego Tristán (Capdevila 87'). 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Valencia: Palop, Carboni, Rufete for Cañizares, David Navarro, Fiore / Deportivo: No change.

0-1. 45. Scaloni. Cut in from right and fired shot which ballooned in off Albelda.
1-1. 51. Di Vaio. Volleyed in from close range after Andrade deflected Rufete cross.
1-2. 73. Víctor. Ran on to Tristán back-heel pass to shoot low past Palop.

Deportivo La Coruña beat third placed Valencia 1-2 in the Mestalla stadium to leave the locals in danger of losing their Champions League spot. Both sides came in to the game needing a win after a string of poor results, and Ranieri decided to leave Cañizares on the bench and draft in Palop in an attempt to change their fortune.

Both he and his opposite number Munúa (making his third appearance in place of the injured Molina) were in action early on, the latter blocking Di Vaio when through on goal and the former catching a header from Andrade following a corner. Fabio Aurelio drove a free kick just over the bar as the home side pressed for the advantage, and soon afterwards Munúa made the save of the night, sticking out a hand to turn Corradi's effort round the post for a corner.

Depor went ahead though on the stroke of half time, Scaloni's shot from the right fortunate to balloon off the foot of Albelda over the head of Palop. But six minutes after the restart the locals equalised, Rufete's cross coming off Andrade and falling kindly for Di Vaio for him to volley it in to the net from close range.

Munúa made an excellent double save from Di Vaio and half time substitute Mista midway through the second half, and a minute later Irureta brought on Víctor to revitalize his side. It proved to be a great decision, as just a couple of minutes later the winger ran on to a clever back-heel pass from Diego Tristán to fire his side back in front.

Di Vaio did his best after that to level the scores but couldn't quite find the route to goal, and the game ended shortly afterwards with the unhappy fans booing off their players. After five games without a win Valencia could drop out of the top four if any two of Sevilla, Villarreal, Betis and Espanyol produce a positive result on Sunday. Ranieri needs to turn this round quickly, or he could be the next to go.