Resilient Gijon hold Valencia
Sporting Gijon showed off their new-found resilience for the second time in the space of a week as they held third-placed Valencia to a goalless draw at the Mestalla this evening.
The Asturian outfit had won three of their last five matches prior to this one and frustrated league leaders Barcelona at El Molinon last weekend, earning a creditable 1-1 draw to end the Catalans' perfect La Liga record away from home this season.
That result saw Pep Guardiola's side fail to win for the first time in 17 league games and a similar effort looked necessary against a Valencia outfit that had won seven of their last eight league games. But Valencia could only draw at home to German side Schalke in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League earlier this week and that result appeared to have drained the confidence from Unai Emery's side early on.
Sporting made things tough as they defended in numbers and Valencia, despite their superior possession, quality and home advantage, were unable to find a breakthrough in a tepid opening period. Alejandro Dominguez came close after 16 minutes, but dragged his effort just wide.
Winger Joaquin Sanchez also saw a shot blocked just before the break, but that was about it for the home side in the opening 45 minutes.
The second half belonged to Sporting, with Diego Castro looking bright. The midfielder blasted over nine minutes after the restart and was off target with a speculative long-range effort later on as Sporting threatened to take the lead.
Valencia ended the match the strongest, but the home side were unable to create a clear chance of note and had to settle for a point which leaves them just three points ahead of fourth-placed Villarreal, who play Malaga tomorrow.
Sporting, meanwhile, remain provisionally two points clear of the relegation zone but will feel pleased at having picked up those two points from the tough games against Barcelona and Valencia.