Barcelona’s lead cut to 7 points in La Liga, Valencia third

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Madrid, Feb 12 (IANS) FC Barcelona’s lead at the top of Spain’s La Liga table was reduced to seven points as they were held to a goalless draw by Getafe at home, while Valencia CF defeated Levante 3-1 in the Valencia football derby to regain the third spot.

Barçelona had only dropped two points at home all season, but on Sunday failed to score for the first time this campaign against an organised Getafe defence that was able to keep Lionel Messi on a tight leash, reports Xinhua news agency.

Perhaps Barcelona were tired following their Copa del Rey semi-final away to Valencia on Thursday, but with Getafe keeper Vicente Guaita also in fine form, they rarely looked like breaking down a rival that has failed to win in their last 14 visits to the Camp Nou.

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“We were lacking some freshness and rhythm, especially in the first half,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was quoted as saying by the Catalan club’s website.

“Getafe are a team who stop you from playing so you don’t get close to their box. As the game went on we attacked more and more and despite our best efforts it wasn’t to be. They defended their box well and we lacked a bit of spark.”

Valencia led fourth-placed Real Madrid by a point after a tough 3-1 local derby win against Levante. Valencia had been unable to secure a win in any of their last six games in all competitions and they desperately needed a victory to be able to keep pushing for a Champions League spot in La Liga.

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Santi Mina’s header opened the scoring for Valencia after 17 minutes, but Sergio Postigo equalised a minute later.

Levante defender Coke had a goal harshly disallowed early in the second half before Luciano Vietto put Valencia ahead 20 minutes after the break.

Levante won’t have been impressed by the late penalty decision which allowed Dani Parejo to score his side’s third goal of the night.

“There’s no doubt that Valencia CF were much better than Levante and the victory is absolutely fair. I can’t remember any dangerous situations, or big saves from our keeper. We hit the woodwork twice and we dominated most of the game,” Valencia coach Marcelino García Toral was quoted as saying by the club’s website.

“I’m proud of the work, play, ambition and effort of the players. It’s our 12th game in less than 40 days and I feel satisfied having wanted the win after a difficult month and a lot of defeats, some of them unwarranted.”

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Celta Vigo and Espanyol drew 2-2 in Balaidos. Maxi Gomez scored twice for Celta Vigo to cancel out Leo Baptistao’s opening goal for the visitors. Gerard Moreno assured a share of the points when he scored with three minutes left in the game.

–IANS

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