La Liga - Valencia crash to defeat at Zaragoza
Valencia suffered the archetypal European hangover as they crashed to a 4-0 hammering at lowly Real Zaragoza to heap further pressure on coach Unai Emery.
Having been bounced out of the Champions League by Schalke on Wednesday, Los Che's week got even worse as goals by Jiri Jarosik, Ander Herrera and a brace from Gabi - both from the spot - consigned them to defeat at a bouncing Romareda.
Valencia finished the game with 10 men after Marius Stankevicius was dismissed for a second bookable offence in the incident that led to Gabi's first as Emery's side passed up on the chance to go seven points clear of fourth-placed Villarreal.
As it is, Villarreal can now close the gap on their rivals to just a point if they beat Sporting Gijon on Sunday. Victory for Zaragoza sees them jump from 17th to 14th.
If the underfire Emery wanted a positive early response following the 3-1 capitulation in Gelsenkirchen, he failed to get one.
His side fell behind just five minutes into the match when some slack marking at a free-kick allowed Jarosik to rise and head virtually unopposed past Vicente Guaita.
La Romareda erupted and, roared on by the delighted locals, the hosts continued to threaten as Valencia's defence struggled to cope at set piece situations.
On 25 minutes, from a dead ball in a similar position to the one which led to the opener, Carlos Diogo was allowed to head into the path of Nicolas Bertolo, who conspired to fire over the bar.
Valencia were in disarray at the back and it got worse when centre-half Ricardo Costa was forced off on 35 minutes. He was replaced by Ever Banega, a midfielder, and it was the Argentine's slip soon after that nearly led to a second. Only a poor decision by Ikechukwu Uche to play a pass instead of homing in on goal himself spared Banega's blushes.
Uche nearly redeemed himself soon after when he stretched to reach Bertolo's cross-shot but the Nigerian striker could not get enough on the ball to divert it into the back of the net.
Zaragoza did not have to wait much longer for a second though, as Uche completed his redemption with a beautifully weighted through pass to Ander, who ran on to coolly slot home in between the legs of Guaita.
After the break, salt was rubbed into Valencia's already gaping wounds as two penalty decisions went against them - and they were duly punished.
First Stankevicius brought down Bertolo with a challenge the referee deemed illegal; the Lithuanian was booked and was sent to the dressing rooms before Gabi sent Guaita the wrong way to register the first of his two spot kicks.
Gabi chose to convert down the middle this time to send the home crowd into raptures and put the icing on a famous win - one which may prove crucial come the final relegation reckoning at the end of the season.
For Valencia, it was a night to forget.