La Liga leaders Real Madrid stunned by struggling Valencia

Simone Zaza stunning goal sees Real lose just second league game of season

Real Madrid forwards Gareth Bale  and Cristiano Ronaldo react during the  Primera Division  match against  Valencia   at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia. Photograph: Manuel Bruque/EPA

Real Madrid forwards Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo react during the Primera Division match against Valencia at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia. Photograph: Manuel Bruque/EPA

 

Valencia 2 Real Madrid 1

Real Madrid suffered a surprise defeat at struggling Valencia on Wednesday as they missed the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of La Liga after losing for only the second time in the league this season.

Simone Zaza, who endured an unhappy loan spell at West Ham United earlier this season, gave Valencia the lead in the fifth minute with a brilliant shot on the turn and Fabian Orellana added the second in the ninth.

Cristiano Ronaldo headed Real back into contention just before half-time, but the visitors were unable to build on their momentum after the break.

Real remain top on 52 points, one ahead of nearest challengers Barcelona and three clear of Sevilla in third, and still have one game in hand on both of their title rivals.

Real’s match at Valencia was rearranged after the original fixture was postponed from December due to Zinedine Zidane’s side taking part in the Fifa Club World Cup.

Valencia have endured a nightmare season filled with dismal results and upheaval off the pitch, but they got off to a flying start when a long pass from goalkeeper Diego Alves found its way to Zaza, who swivelled and fired the ball into the far top corner.

Zaza, who joined Valencia in January on loan from Juventus after flopping at West Ham, scored his first goal for his new club in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. He was a constant thorn in Real’s side, linking up superbly with wingers Nani, Orellana and Munir El Haddadi.

Real responded with a wayward shot from Toni Kroos but left themselves exposed on the break and were soon another goal down as Zaza spread the play to Nani and Orellana darted onto the Portuguese’s pass to knock the ball through keeper Keylor Navas’s legs.

Valencia might have got a third had it not been for a decisive block from Marcelo on Munir’s shot which deflected over the bar, and the Brazilian played a crucial role in giving Real a foothold on the game, sending an arcing cross into the box which Ronaldo leapt to head past Alves.

Gareth Bale was brought on to help Real’s push for more goals in the second half but they barely mustered a decent attempt on goal, while Munir had a strong penalty appeal waved away at the other end.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.