Madrid wastes chance to extend lead after losing at Valencia
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 23, 2017 05:41 PM
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale reacts after failing to score against Valencia during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — It took less than 10 minutes for Real Madrid to throw away a chance to increase its lead in the Spanish league.
Madrid failed to recover after conceding two early goals on Wednesday, losing 2-1 at Valencia to remain only one point ahead of Barcelona, although it still has a game in hand.
It also ended Madrid's four-match winning streak.
"We lost this game in 10 minutes. We made two mistakes and they scored twice," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "We tried to get back into the game but we were missing a lot of things today. We had the chance to add some points but couldn't do it."
Valencia got off to a fast start at its Mestalla Stadium with goals by two players who were added to the squad in January.
Italian striker Simone Zaza opened the scoring in the fifth minute after controlling the ball with his back to the goal. He quickly turned to fire a left-footed strike into the top corner, away from Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Chilean forward Fabian Orellana added to the lead in the ninth with a low shot past Navas from inside the area after a great pass by Nani.
"In these games you have to give 100 percent for 95 minutes and we started just the way we needed to start," Valencia midfielder Dani Parejo said. "We deserved this victory."
Cristiano Ronaldo pulled Madrid closer with a header off a cross by Marcelo just before halftime, but Valencia held on the rest of the game.
"We got off to a slow start. There is no excuse for that. We are the ones to blame," Marcelo said. "We have to learn from our mistakes and make sure that this doesn't happen again."
Trying to win its first Spanish league title since 2012, Madrid hadn't lost since a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in January ended its 40-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.
It was the second straight win for Valencia, which moved to 14th and 10 points away from the relegation zone.
The game at Mestalla was rescheduled from the 16th round in December because Madrid traveled to Japan to play in the Club World Cup, a competition it won.
"It happened that the game had to be played now and we were coming off a good run, playing with a lot of confidence," Parejo said.
Madrid's game against Celta was postponed earlier this year after heavy winds damaged Celta's Balaidos Stadium in Vigo. The match still hasn't been rescheduled.
Madrid's next league game is at Villarreal on Sunday, after Barcelona plays at fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.
Sevilla is third, three points off the lead.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni