La Liga: Gary Neville off the mark while Real Madrid falter again

Gary Neville earned his first point as Valencia manager and Atletico Madrid drew level with Barcelona atop La Ligas and Real Madrid slumped again.

La Liga: Gary Neville off the mark while Real Madrid falter again

A goal down and playing with 10 men, a disorganised-looking Valencia appeared to be heading for defeat at Eibar defender David Junca turned the ball into his own net four minutes from time.

Sergi Enrich had given Eibar the lead on the stroke of half-time, before Lucas Orban’s harsh red card in the 63rd minute, for what appeared a fair midair challenge with Dani Garcia, increased the difficulty of Valencia’s task.

But encouragingly for Neville, his 10 men fought their way back into the match, largely owing to Alvaro Negredo.

Negredo had been a peripheral figure under Neville’s predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo, but it was his through-ball to Andre Gomes that Eibar’s Junca turned into his own net.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez praised the “unique” Antoine Griezmann after the Frenchman’s sensational strike saw Diego Simeone’s side beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to go joint top of the Primera Division.

Griezmann struck the winner midway through the second half, pouncing on a loose ball outside the area and striking first time into the top corner, completing Atletico’s comeback after Saul had cancelled out Aymeric Laporte’s opening goal.

“He is a unique player with incredible efficiency and when the ball comes to him in moments like that, we just know it’s going in,” Saul told Movistar.

Neighbours Real lost more ground when former Spurs striker Roberto Soldado scored an eighth-minute winner for Villarreal last night. Despite a second-half onslaught, Rafael Benitez’s side couldn’t find an equaliser and now lie five points adrift of the leaders.

On Saturday, Deportivo La Coruna launched a stunning late fightback to clinch a 2-2 draw at Barcelona.

Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic had given Barcelona, missing the injured Neymar, a 2-0 lead, Messi netting a first-half free kick.

With just 13 minutes left at the Nou Camp Deportivo winger Lucas Perez pulled a goal back.

Midfielder Alex Bergantinos then shocked the La Liga leaders when he curled into the bottom corner with four minutes left to snatch a point.

“It’s inexplicable, especially how we ended the game,” midfielder Andres Iniesta said.

“We lost control of the game at the moment when we should have had the most control and made it easy for our rivals, who were two goals down. These things happen, but we have to analyse the game and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” added Iniesta.

Barcelona now head to the e Club World Cup in Japan.

“In two weeks we’ve dropped points that have allowed our rivals to put the pressure on. Now we have to change our mindset because we’re playing for a trophy.”

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