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Real streak halted by Valencia draw


Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid needed a late strike from Marco Asensio to prevent a shock defeat but still saw their relentless winning streak ended by Valencia in a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Asensio had got the hosts off to the perfect start after just 10 minutes, but Carlos Soler rounded off an excellent Valencia team move to level shortly after.

Valencia stunned the Bernabeu when Geoffrey Kondogbia, who joined the club this week on a season-long loan from Inter Milan, swept home Rodrigo’s cross from the edge of the area.

However, like on so many ocassions last season, Madrid had a late reply as Asensio curled home a free-kick seven minutes from time.

The Madrid fans had plenty to cheer before kick-off as Real were finally given the chance to lift the Liga trophy they won four months ago.

Captain Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo joined the parade of the Liga, Spanish Super Cup and UEFA Super Cup trophies but both were suspended for the game, forcing coach Zinedine Zidane into a tactical reshuffle.

Casemiro deputised as an auxiliary centre-back, whilst Asensio came into the side in the only change from last weekend’s 3-0 win at Deportivo la Coruna.

And the Spanish international made an instant impact as he pounced on a slack pass by Kondogbia before slotting into the far corner on his favoured left foot.

Valencia have endured two dreadful years, finishing 12th for the past two seasons, but there were encouraging signs of a revival under new coach Marcelino Garcia Toral in their response to going behind.

A fine team move cut open the Madrid defence down Valencia’s left and Toni Lato’s cross was turned in by Soler.

Only an excellent save from Valencia goalkeeper Neto kept the scores level at half-time as Madrid broke at frightening pace from a Valencia corner before Karim Benzema’s shot was turned behind.

Isco and Benzema twice then passsed up huge chances with just Neto to beat as Real ended the half firmly on top.

Madrid’s pressure continued after the break as Casemiro and Luka Modric saw long-range efforts tipped wide by the impressive Neto.

However, Valencia were also posing a threat on the counter-attack as Simone Zaza headed over a golden chance when unmarked 10 yards out before Keylor Navas produced a stunning save from Dani Parejo’s free-kick.

Valencia thought they had secured their their first win at the Bernabeu since 2008 when Kondogbia swept home Rodrigo’s cross from the edge of the area 13 minutes from time.

But Asensio rescued Madrid when his free-kick wrong-footed Neto.

And they should have snatched all three points when Benzema fired wide from point-blank range.

Elswhere on Sunday, there was a trio of 1-0 away wins for Sevilla, Leganes and Athletic Bilbao.

Sevilla got their first league victory of the season thanks to Paulo Henrique Ganso as his sensational flicked finish with the outside of his left foot saw off Getafe.

Leganes moved up to fourth with a surprise win at Espanyol thanks to Martin Mantovani’s solitary goal.

And veteran striker Aritz Aduriz edged a Basque derby Athletic’s way at Eibar.

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