Rayo Vallecano 1-1 Valencia
A temperate night in Madrid was made toasty by two teams in Vallecas, who sweated out everything they had in a closely-fought encounter.
The home side continued their winless run, extending it to 11 games in total and leaves them still without a league victory in 2022. Despite being the only side to hold such a record, it isn’t for want of trying.
It was Isi Palazon’s effort that came closest in the first half, forcing a smart stop from Giorgi Mamardashvili in the Valencia goal. That was barely a chance in its own right – coming from distance – and there was little else to report other than the intense and compact defending from both sides.
In the second, the same pattern followed. Rayo Vallecano got another block in on Carlos Soler just before the hour mark, but with the misfortune that Alejandro Catena’s boot only diverted it into the corner beyond Stole Dimitrievski. Assisted by Goncalo Guedes, Soler was then the one who released Uros Racic through for Valencia’s big chance to strike a decisive blow, but his shot skidded narrowly wide.
That was the cue for Rayo to up the ante. In particular, Isi was the beating heart of their chance creation but also the delicate touch too. Much though they struggled onwards, Mamardashvili, Gabriel Paulista and Omar Alderete kept getting in the way.
Until the 83rd minute, when Isi broke into the Valencia half and dissected the entire Los Che defence with one pass into the path of Sergi Guardiola, who thumped the ball into the top corner first time.
Rayo continued to push in the final minutes but without another moment of genius from Isi, were unable to break through once more. They finished the match unsure whether to be satisfied with a decent point or frustrated at their inability to move themselves more than six points clear of the drop.
This draw hurts Valencia’s hopes of finishing seventh, when they could have cut the gap to Villarreal down to four. Yet it’s hard to escape the feeling that all efforts are primarily focused on their Copa del Rey final in two weeks time.