Football

Valencia captain blames pitch for shock defeat

Parejo and Co. lose to 10-man Getafe, miss chance to close gap on Barca

Valencia skipper Dani Parejo blamed the condition of the pitch at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez after his team slumped to their first defeat of the season, losing 1-0 to Getafe on Sunday.

The defeat came as a huge blow to the high-flying Los Che, who missed a chance to move within two points of La Liga leaders Barcelona, who were surprisingly held to a 2-2 home by Celta Vigo on Saturday.

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 talent of Paris Saint-Germain 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.

Midfielder Parejo said after the match: "We've suffered our first defeat of the season.

"We knew it was going to be difficult and we have to congratulate Getafe. They picked up the three points, but great football can't be played on a pitch like that.

"The conditions for how they won weren't fair, but that's football. It seemed like they didn't look after the grass for a week. The ball didn't run properly and the pitch was dry.

"It's not an excuse, but the league has to look for solutions (to problems like these) in order to be the best in the world."

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 third-placed Atletico Madrid.

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 half-time was a trio of 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 metres 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 onto the post.

And the ex-Valencia keeper denied Parejo and Co. once more in stoppage time with a smart stop from Carles Soler's piledriver.

On a fine day 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.

Las Palmas' first win in 10 games moved the Canary Islanders to within two points of safety as Jonathan Calleri netted the only goal against a Real Betis side on the slide.

Eibar are now nine points clear of the drop zone as they beat Espanyol 3-1 to record a third straight win. - WIRE SERVICES

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