MADRID – Valencia blew a huge chance to move to within two points of Barcelona at the top of La Liga as they slumped to a first defeat of the season, losing 1-0 at Getafe.
The visitors’ disappointment was also compounded by the fact Getafe played for 65 minutes a man down after Mauro Arambarri was sent off midway through the first half.
However, a Valencia shorn of the creative talents of PSG loanee Goncalo Guedes through injury lacked ideas to break the hosts down and were beaten by Markel Bergara’s deflected effort 24 minutes from time.
Barca’s failure to win at home in La Liga for the first time in a year on Saturday against Celta Vigo had opened the door for Valencia to continue their unlikely title challenge after finishing 12th in each of the last two seasons.
Instead, the Catalans extend their lead at the top to five points, with Valencia now just a point ahead of Atletico Madrid in third.
Real Madrid are fourth, a further two points back, after they too were held 0-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Two poorly timed challenges from Arambarri early on looked to have gifted Valencia the upper hand.
However, the best Los Che could muster before halftime was a trio of Dani Parejo free kicks that tested Vicente Guaita.
The 10 men then missed a great chance to go in front at the start of the second period when Angel Rodriguez fired wide with just Valencia goalkeeper Neto to beat.
Getafe did, though, get a lucky break for the opener when Bergara’s powerful effort from 25 yards ricocheted off former Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista to leave Neto wrong-footed.
Once again Valencia’s biggest threat came from a Parejo free kick that Guaita brilliantly tipped on to the post.
And the ex-Valencia keeper denied his former club once more in stoppage time with a smart stop from Carles Soler’s pile-driver.
On a fine Sunday for La Liga’s other two Madrid sides, so often overshadowed by Real and Atletico, Leganes also came from behind to beat Villarreal 3-1.
Daniel Raba had given Villarreal the lead at Butarque on the hour mark.
However, the introduction of Moroccan international Nordin Amrabat, who could face Spain at next year’s World Cup after the countries were paired together in Friday’s draw, swung the game Leganes’ way.
Amrabat teed up Diego Rico to equalise before another Moroccan Nabil El Zhar put Leganes in front.
And Amrabat was the creator once more in stoppage time for Gabriel Pires to complete the scoring.