Real Madrid didn’t get the victory that would have put them over nemesis Barcelona, but they did get a last-second, much-needed equalizer from Karim Benzema to stay on par with the Catalonians.
Heading into midweek’s El Clasico, Barcelona and Real Madrid remain tied with 35 points, although the former remains top-of-the-table with a better goal differential.
With the game winding down and Real Madrid’s chances of pulling off a stunning draw slimming, Zinedine Zidane order his men to push forward in his team’s final corner kick of the night.
With Thibaut Courtois inside the box ready to pounce on the lofting ball, the ball was place directly in front of the Belgian. He headed the ball into Jaume Doménech’s hands. With the ball lingering inside the box, Benzema wasted no time, rifling the ball into the back of the net.
In the 78th minute, Carlos Soler put the home side in front, scoring his first goal of the season. With the win, Valencia extend their unbeaten streak to five games.
Next for Real Madrid is the game of the season: El Clasico against Barcelona on Wednesday, while Valencia travel to Real Valladolid in league play.
By defeating Celta Vigo 3-2 at home on Thursday, Valencia won consecutive games for just the third time all season, but more importantly, attained some hope.
A winner from Carlos Soler in the 86th minute saw Voro Gonzalez win for the seventh time since taking over in January, and the club moved into 12th place in the La Liga table – its highest position all season long.
Soler’s goal on its own was brilliant – a delicious lob that left goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez completely bamboozled. On a broader scale, it marks a potential rebirth of Valencia after a season of headscratching results. Sinc3 1997, Valencia finished in the bottom half of the La Liga table just once, winning two league titles in the process and qualified for the Champions League 10 times. This team is not one that is used to bottom-half struggles.
Last season, the club won just twice in the final two months to slump to a 12th placed finish, and the struggles continued through this campaign. But now, with a gritty win against a strong Celta Vigo side, there is a platform for potential growth.
There’s still plenty of work to be done, with one of the league’s worst defenses and an offense only capable of counterbalancing such a struggling back line on occasion, but for now, the potential for saving the season is there, and while no tangible goals are left to attain, the higher the finish now, the better foundation there is for next season to build upon.