Valencia's frustrations continue with draw against Malaga in La Liga
MADRID (AP) — The frustration keeps piling up for Valencia in the Spanish league.
Cesare Prandelli's team conceded an equalizer in the final minute of stoppage time in a 2–2 draw against Malaga. That extended its winless streak in the league to six games, prompting more jeers from disappointed home fans at Mestalla Stadium.
"We have to stay optimistic," Prandelli said. "We have to find ways to overcome these obstacles. I know it's hard, but we have to keep our heads high."
The hosts appeared in position to finally win for the second time in the league under the former Italy coach, but the defense faltered and Malaga midfielder Pablo Fornals scored from inside the area right at the end of the match.
Fornals had scored Malaga's first goal three minutes into the game, but striker Rodrigo and midfielder Alvaro Medran each netted in the first half to give Valencia a chance to snap the winless streak.
Prandelli won in his first match in charge of Valencia in October, but since then the team lost three times and drew another three in the league, dropping to 16th in the 20-team standings.
"It's a pity, we played well enough to win this game but we let it escape again," Rodrigo said. "We have to stay united and keep working hard."
Valencia won 3–1 at Leganes on Tuesday in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey.
Malaga, unbeaten in four league games, is in 11th place with 20 points.
Leader Real Madrid drew with Barcelona 1–1 in Saturday's "clasico" at Camp Nou to reach 34 points and maintain a six-point advantage over its Catalan rival.
Sevilla is third with 27 points and Atletico Madrid fourth with 25.
Athletic Bilbao 3, Eibar 1
Playmaker Benat Etxebarria scored with a superb free kick just before halftime to lead Athletic Bilbao to victory over Eibar, getting his team back in the fight for a Europa League spot.
Etxebarria perfectly curled a right-footed shot over the wall from near the left corner of the penalty area in the 42nd minute. The powerful strike went into the top left corner, leaving no chance for Eibar goalkeeper Asier Riesgo.
Forward Inaki Williams added to Athletic's lead in the 55th at San Mames Stadium in Bilbao with a great run from his own half. Williams sped past a couple of defenders before entering the area and sending a low shot between the legs of Riesgo.
Eibar pulled one back with a header by forward Sergi Enrich in the 70th, but Iker Muniain sealed Athletic's victory after a counterattack in second-half injury time.
It was Athletic's second win in its last three matches, leaving it seventh in the standings with 23 points, the same as fifth-placed Villarreal and sixth-placed Real Sociedad. The top four teams play in the Champions League next season, while Nos. 5 and 6 participate in the Europa League.
Athletic is in the second-tier European competition this season.
Eibar, coming off two straight wins, stayed on 21 points and dropped to eighth place.
Eibar was one of the clubs whose players wore rainbow-colored arm bands on Sunday to promote the fight against homophobia.
Real Betis 3, Celta Vigo 3
Spain striker Iago Aspas scored a goal in each half and Argentine defender Facundo Roncaglia netted an 85th-minute equalizer for Celta Vigo in its thrilling draw against Real Betis in Seville.
Betis twice had the lead with goals by striker Ruben Castro, Paraguay forward Antonio Sanabria and Argentine defender German Pezzella. But Celta kept coming back to secure the away draw that left the visitors in ninth place with 21 points.
Real Betis is 14th with 15 points, five away from the relegation zone.
Betis had Brazilian midfielder Petros sent off in second-half stoppage time.
Alaves drew with visiting Las Palmas 1–1, while host Sporting Gijon defeated Osasuna 3–1 to snap a 10-match winless streak.