Valencia further eased their relegation fears as they secured a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday night.

Diego Lopez snuck in untracked to convert Justin Kluivert’s ball across the box in what turned out to be a fractious affair which saw Vinicius Junior sent off for a flailing arm during a scuffle.

Vinicius was also the victim of an alleged racist attack from a home supporter late on.

Real were never at their incisive best in the final third but were denied time after time by Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili.

The opening salvos were pretty mucky with a Nico Gonzalez shot being blocked and Andre Almeida’s long range effort comfortably saved.

The hosts were aggressive in their search to claim three points and move further away from the bottom three and grabbed the game’s opening goal just after the half hour mark.

Jose Gaya’s ball found Kluivert and the Dutchman’s low cross reached the lurking Lopez at the back post, with the easiest of finishes applied to send Valencia ahead.

Real’s season has faded away in disappointing fashion following their harsh exit from the Champions League at the hands of Manchester City and Atletico Madrid’s win earlier on Sunday meant Los Blancos needed to avoid defeat to go back above their city rivals.

Edinson Cavani, who had flopped in search of a penalty earlier, got crowded out when played into space by Kluivert before Real got going in attack. Marco Asensio curled in an inviting cross which Vinicius Junior attacked but headed over the woodwork.

Thibaut Courtois pulled off an eye-catching double save to stop Javier Guerra twice in quick succession before the half time whistle blew.

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Rodrygo replaced Eduardo Camavinga for the second half as and immediately linked up with Benzema and Lucas Vazquez, though a promising move fizzled out when Mamardashvili gobbled up a low cross.

Lopez nearly doubled Valencia’s advantage but was denied his second by Courtois, who read the young Spaniard’s effort to make a simple save in the middle of his goal.

Rodrygo showed more good intent by driving towards goal but had a powerful strike flicked over the top by Mamardashvili. Eray Comert was then booked for kicking a second ball at Vinicius, who was in possession on the wing.

Play was halted for a few minutes towards the end of the second half when Vinicius brought referee Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea’s attention to a section of the Mestalla crowd in relation to an alleged racist incident.

The game resumed a shortly after and Valencia looked to have added a second when substitute Samuel Lino picked out Kluivert to tap in, but he was shown to have strayed too early beyond the last defender.

Ten minutes of second half stoppage time were added as more bust-ups between the players started to occur. Vinicius was afforded little protection from the home side’s fans by the referee and was rather oddly the only player sent off during a tussle, having been held around the neck at one point.

A bizarre ending saw the game stretch into its 107th minute as ten-player Real pushed for an equaliser that never came, leaving them third in La Liga while Valencia rise up to 13th.

GK: Giorgi Mamardashvili (8); RB: Thierry Correia (7), CB: Eray Comert (8), CB: Cenk Ozkacar (8), LB: Jose Gaya (8); CM: Javier Guerra (7), CM: Nico Gonzalez (7); RW: Diego Lopez (7), AM: Andre Almeida (8), LW: Justin Kluivert (7); ST: Edinson Cavani (6).

Substitutes: Samuel Lino (6), Dimitri Foulquier (6), Toni Lato (6), Hugo Duro (N/A), Yunus Musah (N/A)

Rodrygo made an impact / Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

GK: Thibaut Courtois – 7/10 – Smart double save kept the deficit at one goal, though the second stop was much smarter than the first.

RB: Lucas Vazquez – 5/10 – Couldn’t provide too much attacking threat down the right.

CB: Eder Militao – 5/10 – Won a few aerial duels but not all that convincing, with Real often defending in last-resort fashion.

CB: Antonio Rudiger – 5/10 – A bit all over the place positionally, not inspiring much confidence in those around him.

LB: Ferland Mendy – 4/10 – Was caught completely unaware by Lopez as the young Spaniard marched beyond the Frenchman to net. Still getting up to speed after returning from injury.

CM: Dani Ceballos – 5/10 – Started brightly but faded in the second half before making way for the heavy hitters.

CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 7/10 – Dribbled away from danger nicely and made three successful challenges.

CM: Eduardo Camavinga – 5/10 – Back in midfield but looked a little bereft of ideas having recently played at left back.

RW: Marco Asensio – 7/10 – A couple of neat jinks here and there opened up space on the wing. Created a great chance for Vinicius but was off target with his two shots.

ST: Karim Benzema – 6/10 – Showed all the tools he has at his disposal but no single moment of end quality came for Benzema.

LW: Vinicius Junior – 5/10 – Not at his gliding best off the wing, heading over from Asensio’s cross. Was targeted by a group of Valencia fans and then got goaded into reacting when a shoving contest broke out.


Rodrygo (46′ for Camavinga) – 7/10 – Immediately gave Real more of a zip in attack and went close with a few shots.

Toni Kroos (65′ for Ceballos) – 6/10 – Helped Real pin Valencia fon the last 40 minutes or so.

Luka Modric (65′ for Asensio) – 6/10 – Was similarly classy to Kroos but just couldn’t pry the hosts opens.

Federico Valverde (86′ for Tchouameni) – N/A

Dani Carvajal (86′ for Mendy) – N/A


Carlo Ancelotti – 4/10 – Went with an odd starting lineup and couldn’t get a response from his side in hostile surroundings.

Player of the Match: Giorgi Mamardashvili (Valencia)

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