Liga - Valencia deny Villarreal in Molina's first game

Sun, 08 Jan 18:55:00 2012

Valencia hit back to draw 2-2 with Villarreal in La Liga at El Madrigal in Jose Molina's first game as coach of the Yellow Submarine.

FOOTBALL - 2010/2011 - Valencia-Villarreal - Soldado - 0

It looked like being a dream start to Molina's tenure as Villarreal boss as Marco Ruben and Gonzalo Rodriguez put his side 2-0 up within 18 minutes.

But Sofiane Feghouli reduced the arrears in the first half, and Aritz Aduriz's 86th-minute equaliser ensured that Villarreal remain in the drop zone.

Villarreal were without long-term injury absentee Giuseppe Rossi, while Jose Catala, Wakaso Mubarak and Mateo Musacchio were all unavailable. Ruben was chosen to lead the line, with Nilmar just behind him, and Borja Valero and Cani on the wings.

For Valencia, David Albelda missed out through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. The Brazilian Jonas played just off Roberto Soldado in attack, with Feghouli and Jordi Alba providing the width in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Roberto Soldado fired into the side netting early on, but Villarreal did not take long to find their tempo.

The home side got the tonic their new coach needed when Ruben fired them into the lead after 14 minutes.

The Argentine played a neat one-two with Nilmar, evaded the challenge of Victor Ruiz and calmly dispatched the ball beyond Diego Alves.

And they doubled their lead just four minutes later as Gonzalo rose unmarked to head in a free-kick from Borja Valero.

A spate of yellow cards followed as tempers threatened to spill over, with Villarreal picking up four yellow cards after only 35 minutes as Bruno, Cani, Cristian Zapata and Joan Oriol all went into the book.

Oriol threatened to make it 3-0 when he fired into the side netting, but Valencia were soon back in it when Feghouli headed in a sublime cross from Miguel. The Portuguese right-back volleyed the ball into the box first time and the Algerian headed firmly past Diego Lopez.

The Valencia marking was poor and Cristian Zapata really should have done better when heading another Valero free-kick over the bar.

At the beginning of the second half Cani attempted an effort from the halfway line, with Alves needing to be on his mettle to deflect the ball out for a corner.

A heavy touch from Cani then saw him surrender possession to Soldado who curled the ball just wide.

Valero nearly extended Villarreal's lead when he collected a good pass from Bruno and his powerful left-footed strike was spectacularly palmed away for a corner by Alves.

Nilmar, who was subdued for much of this encounter, showed good pace to get around Adil Rami but his shot was saved at the near post by Alves.

Villarreal were not unduly troubled in the final minutes until substitute Aduriz's 87th minute leveller. The former Mallorca striker seized upon a poor clearance from Zapata and curled a low shot into Lopez's bottom left corner.

The result means Valencia hold on to third position, while struggling Villarreal, who last year qualified for the Champions League, remain 18th and locked in the relegation battle.

Stewart Coggin / Eurosport

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