Eibar relegation fears ease as own goal downs Valencia


MADRID: Eibar took full advantage of a fortuitous first-half own goal to ease their relegation worries as they beat Valencia 1-0 at home in La Liga on Thursday to deliver a harsh blow to the visitors’ hopes of playing in Europe next season.

Valencia midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia had little idea when the ball struck him on the foot and deflected into his own net as he tracked back to help defend a corner in the 16th minute.

Eibar remain one place above the relegation zone with 32 points but are now six clear of Mallorca immediately below them with seven matches remaining.

Valencia stayed in eighth place on 46 points, seven adrift a Champions League berth and two points off the Europa League places.

Valencia looked for a quick response after conceding but Jose Luis Gaya, who had time and space after a clever dummy by Goncalo Guedes, dragged his 21st minute effort off target.

It was the same story, shortly afterwards, for promising talent Ferran Torres after he had opened up the home defence with some clever footwork.

Eibar responded when Pedro Leon flashed a powerful shot wide on the stroke of halftime at the Ipurua Stadium.

Multiple second-half substitutions did little to change the contest, which became even tighter as the foul count increased and the flow of the game was compromised.

But Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen had to make a sharp reflex save to keep out a glancing header from Edu Exposito with seven minutes remaining as Eibar came close to another goal.

A second caution for French international Eliaquim Mangala saw the Valencia defender sent off in the last minute.

Espanyol’s plight at the bottom of La Liga was intensified after Thursday’s later game as they lost 1-0 at Real Betis.

Marc Bartra headed home the winner at a corner in 48th minute to move Betis well clear of the relegation zone but leave Espanyol still on 24 points and running out of games to try and conjure up a rescue.

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