Valencia dropped important points in the fight for a UEFA Champions League place after they were held 0-0 at home by lowly Racing Santander on Monday in their Spanish First Division match.
With fourth-placed Sevilla losing, Valencia could have opened up a six-point cushion but they were never at their best with a number of players missing through injury and suspension. A make-shift defence struggled especially against the skills of youngster Sergio Canales but they still had the chances to see off the threat from Racing going forward.
The normally clinical David Villa shot straight at the Racing keeper Fabio Coltorti from six-yards out and then saw another strike come back off the post. Racing also had their moments with Canales denied by the Valencia keeper Miguel Moya before the break and in the second half Santander had the better opportunities to win the match.
Moya proved to be the hero for Valencia making several point-blank saves notably from Manuel Arana and Mohamed Tchite. The pressure on the Valencia defence took its toll with the expulsion of David Navarro for a second yellow card late on.
"Although the balance of play was in our favour in the first-half in terms of openings, in general we were never comfortable and in the second-half Racing were on top," said Valencia coach Unai Emery. "We were missing a lot of players though and Racing played well so the best thing is to turn over a new page."
Racing coach Miguel Angel Portugal realised that the game was there for the taking but was philosophical about the result. "Sometimes when you can't win it is best not to lose," he said.
"We were unable to finish off chances and that has cost the team points. Maybe we had a different mentality against a team of the quality of Valencia than we do against sides of our level where we try and play more football," he added.