Levante shock Villarreal to end run
Struggling Levante caused one of the shocks of the Primera Division season tonight after ending high-flying Villarreal's unbeaten home record with a well-deserved 1-0 derby triumph.
Villarreal had claimed 31 from a possible 33 at El Madrigal and would have moved to within three points of second-placed Real Madrid with a victory. However, Levante, who had picked up just five points away from home coming into the game, earned the spoils thanks to Valmiro Valdo's breakaway goal just after half-time.
It was not enough to lift Levante out of the relegation zone, but they are now just one point behind the five teams above them, while Villarreal could see their lead over fourth-placed Valencia reduced to one point tomorrow if Los Che beat Hercules.
Levante should really have been ahead at half-time after going close three times in the opening period, Christian Stuani and Juanfran failing to make the most of headed opportunities before Juanfran saw a shot deflected just wide of the far post.
Xisco Munoz also struck the woodwork for the visitors, although an offside flag would have seen the goal chalked out anyway. Villarreal's best chance of the opening period came in the 41st minute when Giuseppe Rossi saw his thumping volley superbly saved one-handed by the diving Gustavo Munua.
The Yellow Submarine hoped the interval would bring a change of fortunes, but it was again Levante who enjoyed the better openings after the break. Stuani had a great chance in the 46th minute but, after finding himself with just Diego Lopez to beat, his attempted chip was not good enough to clear the Spain international.
Levante need not have worried though, as 60 seconds later they again cut through the home defence and this time Valdo took full advantage. Munoz's perfect pass over the top put Valdo through and he showed Carlos Marchena a clean pair of heels before rounding Lopez outside the area and slotting into an empty net. There was no way back for Villarreal after that, and Levante looked more likely to add to the scoreline in the remainder of the half.
Javi Venta, a former Villarreal player, Valdo and Xavi Torres all had opportunities without being able to add to Levante's lead, but with the home side struggling to create chances at the other end, it mattered little to the Valencia-based visitors as they held on for three vital points.