Marcelino under pressure as Valencia held at home again
By TALES AZZONI
MADRID (AP) Missed chances and home setbacks - it's been a familiar plot for Valencia this season.
And it happened again on Saturday.
Valencia was held at Mestalla Stadium once more, conceding late to relegation-threatened Valladolid in a 1-1 draw in the Spanish league, adding pressure on embattled coach Marcelino.
The plot was repeated: Valencia played well and had plenty of chances to put the game away, including with a penalty kick, but it wasted most of them.
"These things are difficult to explain," Marcelino said. "It's not the first time we have a game like this, when we are completely superior but our opponent ends up scoring with a great goal."
This time, a well-placed free kick by Ruben Alcaraz in the 82nd minute cost Valencia the home victory after Dani Parejo opened the scoring about 10 minutes earlier.
Striker Rodrigo's penalty in the 54th was saved by Valladolid goalkeeper Jordi Masip, who also stopped forward Santi Mina's close-range attempt off the rebound. Santi Mina, in his 100th league game with Valencia, also missed an open-net chance later in the second half.
South Korean midfielder Lee Kang-in entered the match late, becoming the youngest foreigner to play in the league for Valencia at age 17, but he also couldn't do much to help the hosts avoid the setback.
It was the seventh draw in 10 home games for Valencia in the league, and 11th overall in 19 league matches. With only four wins, Valencia sits 10th in the standings.
Valladolid, which barely got near Valencia's goal at Mestalla, celebrated the draw, but it extended the team's winless streak to five matches in all competitions. It is 14th on the table.
Valencia was coming off a first-leg loss to second-division club Sporting Gijon in the Copa del Rey, a result that prompted increased calls for Marcelino's firing.
"I'm not concerned about that," Marcelino said. "My job is to find solutions. If the club thinks a change in coach will help the team start winning again, and that I'm the only one to blame, then it will make the decision it needs to make. I would accept it, but I would not agree with it, because there are things that are out of the coach's hands."
Villarreal's struggles continued in losing to Getafe 2-1 at home, a result that dropped the club to second-to-last in the 20-team standings. But even after six-match winless run, Villarreal is only two points from safety.
Getafe moved up to sixth place.
Cristhian Stuani scored with a neat overhead kick to put Girona ahead in the first half, but visiting Alaves salvaged a draw with a 50th-minute equalizer by Borja Baston.
Stuani had his back to the goal when the ball bounced in front of him and he turned to send an acrobatic shot into the top corner.
It was the fourth straight draw for eighth-place Girona.
Alaves, one of the surprises of the season, missed a chance to overcome Sevilla for third place. It could drop to fifth if Real Madrid wins at Real Betis on Sunday.
Leganes moved further from the relegation zone after beating last-place Huesca 1-0 at home. The first win in six matches lifted the southern Madrid club three points above the danger area.
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Updated January 12, 2019