La Liga: Alaves remain unbeaten at home, rise to 4th

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Alaves extended its impressive form in the Spanish league by fighting back to beat Valencia 2-1 on Saturday, remaining undefeated through all nine games at home.

The small team from the northern Basque Country climbed past Real Madrid and into fourth place at six points behind leader Barcelona. Alaves also established its best record for the first half of a league with 31 points after 19 rounds.

“You have to appreciate what this team has done,” said Alaves coach Abelardo Fernandez, who took over the team last season and turned it around. “Alaves deserves a monument for what these players have done through the first half of the season. I am proud to be their coach.”

Valencia dominated possession with its flashier attack, but Alaves got its goals by outmuscling rivals to balls in the area.

Dani Parejo gave Valencia the lead in the 14th minute at Mendizorroza Stadium where the midfielder bent a free kick over the defensive barrier.

Alaves forward Borja Baston fought off Mouctar Diakhaby to win a ball from a corner kick and level in the 21st.

Midfielder Tomas Pina added to the fightback in first-half injury time when he scrambled home a ball after Alaves pinned Valencia in its area and came close to scoring twice.

“We know that, while not superior, we can compete with anybody at home,” Pina said. “We feel how much our fans push us. That is one of our strengths. We hope that this harmony with our supporters continues.”

Valencia was left in 11th place as its disappointing season continues for a side that finished fourth last season.

“We knew they were good at set-pieces and that they had scored six or seven goals that way this season, but we let our concentration down and committed two errors,” said Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno, who missed one of Valencia’s few chances to get a second goal.