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Eibar deal more damage to Valencia’s title hopes


Madrid (AFP) – Valencia missed the chance to close to within two points of La Liga leaders Barcelona as Joan Jordan’s towering header three minutes from time handed Eibar a 2-1 win at Ipurua on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid can now usurp Valencia and move into second when they host Alaves later on Saturday, while Barca can open up at least a six-point gap at the top with victory over Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday.

Santi Mina quickly cancelled out Takashi Inui’s opener for the hosts as both sides struck early in the second period after a goalless first half.

However, Eibar weren’t to be denied as they moved up to seventh with a fourth win in five games when Jordan rose highest to head home Ivan Alejo’s cross.

A second defeat in three games after 13 matches unbeaten to start the La Liga season means Valencia’s realistic target is likely to move towards securing a top-four finish rather than an unlikely title challenge.

The visitors missed the firepower offered by suspended top scorer Simone Zaza up front and even the return of playmaker Goncalo Guedes from injury as a second-half substitute failed to inspire Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side.

Eibar also took advantage of some meek Valencia defending as a poor clearance teed up Inui perfectly on the volley to smash home the opener at the near post four minutes after the break.

Valencia reacted well to that blow, though, as a dangerous low cross from Manchester United loanee Andreas Pereira evaded two Eibar defenders and fell perfectly for Mina to tap home his sixth goal of the season.

However, Eibar looked the more likely to grab a winner in the final 20 minutes and did so when Jordan’s powerful header left Neto helpless in the Valencia goal.

Eibar are now top dogs in the Basque country as the region’s two traditional powerhouses Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad played out a 0-0 draw at San Mames to remain mired in 13th and ninth respectively.

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