Barcelona: Valencia and Levante won in dramatic fashion from late goals in the Spanish league on Saturday, lifting the pair of crosstown rivals into Europa League positions. Defender Ricardo Costa headed in Valencia's injury-time winner to cap its 3-2 fightback victory at nine-man Deportivo La Coruna, while Levante edged out Valladolid 2-1 thanks to Antonio Rukavina's own goal in the 90th minute.
Valencia rebounded from its 5-0 thrashing in the league and its subsequent elimination from the Copa del Rey this week by Real Madrid to move into fifth place. Levante is level on points with Valencia in sixth. Elsewhere, Real Sociedad was held to 1-1 at 10-man Celta Vigo, while Espanyol drew 0-0 at Real Zaragoza in a rough-and-tumble contest that both teams ended with 10 men.
Valencia forward Jonas stunned the crowd at Riazor Stadium with a headed goal just 30 seconds into the game. Valencia proceeded to squander various looks on goal before Ivan "Riki" Sanchez made it 1-1 with a header in the 32nd against the flow of play. The striker then grabbed his brace with a strike from the edge of the box in first-half stoppage time.
Deportivo's Silvio Azevedo was dismissed for a second bad tackle in the 52nd, and Valencia forward Nelson Valdez evened the score by stabbing in substitute Juan Bernat's cross in the 63rd. Deportivo's Daniel Aranzubia kept his team alive until Andres Guardado picked out Costa at the far post to beat the 'keeper for a third and decisive time, keeping Deportivo at the bottom of the table. Deportivo's Assuncao saw a direct red card for elbowing Valdez before the final whistle.
"We knew it was going to be complicated," said Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde. "Deportivo is in last place and yet has been playing with a lot of fight, so we knew the difference in the standings wouldn't be seen on the pitch." Earlier, Levante forward Jose Barkero curled a free kick over the barrier and just inside the post a minute before halftime to level for the hosts after Javier Baraja struck first for Valladolid in the eighth with a long-range volley.
Levante carried the initiative the rest of the way, and its effort paid off when Rukavina inadvertently sent the ball into his own net while trying to stop the progress of Obafemi Martins into the area. Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martinez said he was most pleased with his team's capacity to come from behind to get the win. "They scored a great goal that weighed heavily on us," said Martinez. "But the important thing is that we knew how to regain our composure."
Levante defender Sergio Ballesteros left the game in the first half holding the back of his left thigh. Martinez said his captain had a muscle pull and would undergo tests to determine its severity. Valladolid, which had won two straight, remained in 10th place, just five points behind Valencia at the tail end of a pack of teams challenging for a top-six finish and a place in European competitions next season. The top four finishers go to the Champions League.
In Vigo, Celta forward Michael Krohn-Dehli netted after working a one-two combination with Iago Aspas to take the lead in the 32nd minute. Celta's Augusto Fernandez was sent off with his second yellow card in the 50th, and 10 minutes later defender Gorka Elustondo headed in Sociedad's equalizer from a corner kick. Celta's draw left it two points above the drop zone, while Sociedad stayed in ninth place with just one loss in the last 12 rounds.
"Celta defended well with 10 players, but I think we wasted a good occasion to win here," said Sociedad coach Philippe Montanier. Zaragoza bossed the match at La Romareda Stadium but couldn't break through Espanyol's disciplined defense which appeared content to play for the away draw. Espanyol lost defender Javi Lopez to his second booking for a rash tackle in the 79th, with Zaragoza's Ionut Sapunaru following suit three minutes later.
Espanyol has lost only once in eight games under new coach Javier Aguirre. League leader Barcelona plays Osasuna on Sunday, while second-place Atletico Madrid visits Athletic Bilbao. Madrid hosts Getafe, Real Betis is at Rayo Vallecano, and Mallorca takes on Malaga. Sevilla faces Granada at home on Monday.