Valencia make ten-man Sevilla pay
Two penalties helped Valencia down ten-man Sevilla 3-1 on 19 April, pushing them up to fourth to boost their hopes of UEFA Champions League football next season. Sevilla had taken a ninth-minute lead through French centre-back Julien Escude, but David Villa equalised from the spot and Juan Mata converted another penalty seven minutes from time before substitute Pablo Hernandez added a third to kill off the game.
Valencia go three points above Atletico Madrid and Villarreal and close to within five points of third-placed Sevilla. It was a heated game with 12 yellow cards and one red, while Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez was also sent to the stands late on for protesting from the touchline.
"When it was 11 against 11 we were better than Valencia and could have gone into the break two or three goals up," said Jimenez. "After the sending off, it comes down to small details and Valencia took advantage of their chances. Third place isn't secured yet and we have to continue fighting for this spot that so many other teams want."
Valencia coach Unai Emery acknowledged that the win was a major plus, but called on his side to be more consistent. "We are in a better frame of mind now, but we have to work hard so that we can win consistently," he said.
Villarreal's UEFA Champions League hopes suffered another setback on 19 April, as they drew 0-0 with ten-man Valladolid. The dropped points are good news for Valencia who showed great character to come from behind to overcome Sevilla.
The visitors had led through Escude, but in the 44th minute Brazilian Adriano inexplicably hacked down Villa and received a straight red card, which proved a turning point in the game. Sevilla were shocked by the setback and had to endure another a minute later when Escude blocked Juan Mata in the penalty area to give away a spot-kick.
Villa had to wait an age to take the penalty, but kept his cool to rifle home. Villa then hit the post before going off with a knock and Mata took over penalty duties to score in the 83rd minute after a handball in the area by Fernando Navarro.
"I can't deny I touched the ball with my hand, but it wasn't intentional," said Navarro. "I don't know if I just miscalculated my jump or whether he [David Silva] pushed me, but it was a clear penalty. The game was decided by my error."
Substitute Hernandez scored a third late on and it was sweet revenge for Valencia who lost to Sevilla in the quarter-final of this season's Kings Cup. It is a tough time for Sevilla, who travel to Barcelona on 22 April, with goalkeeper Andres Palop suspended for the game after a yellow card against Valencia, before hosting Real Madrid at the weekend.