Villarreal resurrected away at Valencia

Villarreal came from behind twice to snatch a point against local rivals Valencia in a pulsating draw at the Mestalla.

Early strikes from Ruben Baraja and David Villa put Los Che firmly in control but the visitors grabbed a lifeline deep into first-half stoppage-time when substitute Fabricio Fuentes headed home a corner.

Joseba Llorente then drew scores level for the Yellow Submarine in the final quarter, only for Edu to restore Valencia's lead moments later.

A hectic end to the games continued with a late Guiseppe Rossi penalty to bring parity for the second time to the obvious delight of coach Manuel Pellegrini.

The result doesn't do a great deal for Villarreal's challenge to bring Champions League football back to El Madrigal next season, but their spirited performance will have given the Chilean coach plenty to be optimistic about in the coming weeks.

The visitors made the short journey down the east coast on the back of a poor sequence of one win in their past 10 competitive matches and things got a whole lot worse when Valencia took the lead with less than 60 seconds on the clock.

Joaquin collected a short corner on the left and fired in an in-swinging cross for Baraja to jump between two defenders and head home unchallenged.

The goal made for a breathless opening as Villarreal came storming back moments later to hit the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds.

First Ariel Ibagaza dinked an exquisite little chip that had Renan scrambling backwards to tip onto the crossbar, then Llorente clattered the same coat of paint with a header from the resulting corner.

It was hard going on the visitors but Valencia were in no mood to issue sympathy as they doubled their advantage after 10 minutes.

David Albelda, covering at full-back for the suspended Miguel, played in an excellent ball from the right flank that Villa took in his stride before checking back inside Diego Godin and rifling home a left-footed shot that beat Diego Lopez at his near post.

However, the visitors refused to be downtrodden and went for broke, coming close on numerous occasions as Bruno, Rossi and Fuentes all forced Renan into desperate saves, while the lively Ibagaza chipped the Brazilian keeper only to see the ball drop agonizingly wide of the target.

In doing so, Villarreal continually left themselves outnumbered on the counter and Valencia coach Unai Emery will be scratching his head as to why his team didn't kill the game off with several good openings towards the end of the first period.

Valencia finished the half on top and were threatening to turn the game into an exhibition with the mercurial David Silva hitting the crossbar then having a goal ruled out for offside.

Juan Mata also hit the post with a deft flick from a Villa cross and Joaquin went close from the edge of the box.

But then Pellegrini's men stunned the home crowd by scoring with the last act of the half as Fuentes stole in unmarked to head home an Ibagaza corner.

The tempo quietened down at the beginning of the second half with Valencia dictating most of the play, although Santi Cazorla should have done better when he arrived unmarked to meet a Joan Capdevila cross at the back post, which he sliced wide.

As the game entered the final quarter, Los Che went in search of the goal that would put the result beyond doubt but Villa wasted their best chance as he skied over a Silva cross from six yards and it was to prove costly as the visitors leveled after 76 minutes.

Llorente fired in a shot at Renan but the keeper could only spill the ball back into his path and the striker made no mistake with his second attempt, crashing in a shot off the underside of the crossbar.

However, it was a lead that lasted barely two minutes as the visitors were caught napping at a short corner once again, Edu rising highest to power home a firm header from a Mata delivery.

The Mestalla crowd were now in fine voice as Los Che appeared destined to tighten their grip on second spot but they were outraged when Villarreal were awarded a penalty after 84 minutes, although Joaquin could have few complaints after being caught with his arms all over Capdevila.

Rossi stepped up and showed great composure, checking his run before sending Renan the wrong way to complete the comeback for the second and final time.

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