Getafe (Spain), March 11 (IANS) Levante earned a big away win in new head coach Paco Lopez’s debut on the Valencia club’s sideline, topping Getafe 1-0 on a second-half goal by Coke Andujar to stay clear of the La Liga relegation zone.
Lopez had a difficult challenge on his hands at Coliseum Alfonso Perez, where coming into the game on Saturday, Getafe had only lost this La Liga season to Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Sevilla, reports Efe news.
All of those defeats, moreover, came in matches that seemed headed for draws until the visitors scored late goals.
Levante started quietly in the first half, producing nothing more than one shot by Ivi Lopez that sailed off-target.
Getafe’s attacking duo of Jorge Molina and Angel Rodriguez, on the other hand, created four clear chances to score in the game’s first 20 minutes, including a shot by Molina that clanked off the woodwork and a one-on-one chance against goalie Oier Olazabal that Rodriguez failed to convert.
The hosts would rue those missed opportunities, as well as yet another squandered one-on-one opportunity for Molina against the Levante net minder at the start of the second half.
Lopez then made some momentum-changing moves by inserting Ghanaian Emmanuel Boteng for Jason Remeseiro in the 59th minute and Macedonian Enis Bardhi for Roger Marti 10 minutes later.
Those changes allowed Levante to better penetrate Getafe’s defense and led to a header off the crossbar by defender Rober Pier and Coke’s goal with 11 minutes left in regulation.
On the scoring play, a corner kick by Ivi sailed over a large group of Getafe defenders to an unmarked Coke, who bounced a header inside the left upright.
The win was a crucial one for Levante (24 points), which kicked off the Lopez era in auspicious fashion, snapped a 15-match winless streak in La Liga and now is provisionally four points above the relegation zone with 10 games to play.
Getafe (36 points), meanwhile, missed a golden chance to leapfrog Eibar, which lost 2-1 at home to Real Madrid earlier Saturday, and move into eighth place in the La Liga standings.
The seventh-placed team in the Spanish league earns a berth in the Europa League’s second qualifying round.