Valencia end Madrids 22-win streak, Barca lose
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):Valencia ended Real Madrids 22-game winning streak by fighting back for a 2-1 victory yesterday, but the blow was softened by Barcelona also stumbling to a 1-0 loss at Real Sociedad in the Spanish league.
Cristiano Ronaldo extended his stunning tally to 26 league goals in the 14th minute at Mestalla Stadium when he stroked in a penalty kick following Alvaro Negredos handball.
Valencia, however, rallied through a goal by Antonio Barragan in the 52nd, defender Nicolas Otamendi fended off Sergio Ramos to head home the 65th-minute winner.
We have been training all week for this, Otamendi said. This was a key game to start 2015.
Barcelona stepped on to the Anoeta pitch knowing a win would make them the provisional leaders, but coach Luis Enrique chose a starting eleven without Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Jordi Alba own goal
Barcelona went behind when Jordi Alba scored an own goal two minutes in and not even the two stars coming on as second-half substitutes could spark the comeback.
Madrid have a game in hand and lead Barcelona and defending champions Atletico Madrid by one point.
Madrid had not lost or drawn a game in any competition since a 2-1 defeat to Atletico on September 13, setting a Spanish record for consecutive wins.
Carlo Ancelottis team must recover quickly for a second tough outing at Atletico on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey.
You cant take anything away from Valencia, Ramos said. It stings to lose the three points and see our run end, but the league is long. We werent singing victory before nor are we going to blow the league now. They played their style, they knew how to gather more players in the midfield, and they took the points.
Valencias first win in six visits by Madrid lifted them into fourth place, the leagues last Champions League spot that the club has set as its goal for the season.
Rayo Vallecano also came from behind for a 2-1 victory at cross-town rival Getafe from goals by Jozabed Sanchez and Raul Baena.
Eibar top-flight debut
Eibar, meanwhile, continued its impressive top-flight debut by holding on to win 2-1 at Espanyol after goals by Manu del Moral and Eneko Boveda to move into eighth place.
Manager Nuno EspÃrito Santo opted to load Valencias midfield with five players including a debut for new arrival Enzo Perez and play with a three-man defence.
That set up a fascinating matchup between Gareth Bale and Valencia defender Lucas Orban. The speedy Wales winger provided Madrids most dangerous threat early on before the Argentine got the better of him in the second half.
Valencias vigorous push in the opening minutes was undone when Negredo used his arm to block a headed pass by Bale, letting Ronaldo step up and slot the spot kick inside the post.