MADRID (AP) — Valencia’s chances of making the Europa League next season took a hit with a 1-0 loss at relegation-threatened Leganes in the Spanish league on Sunday.
Valencia couldn’t avoid the loss – its fourth in six matches – despite playing with an extra man for almost the entire second half. It also wasted a penalty kick at Butarque Stadium.
The result dropped Valencia to ninth place and further from the Europa League qualification places with two rounds to go. Only fifth and sixth will automatically secure spots for the second-tier European club competition. Valencia’s gap to sixth-place Getafe is three points.
It was the second win in three matches for Leganes, which kept alive its chances of escaping relegation. The club from southern Madrid moved to 18th, three points from safety entering the final stretch of games.
Leganes played with 10 men from the 54th after Jonathan Silva was sent off with a straight red card for a hard foul from behind. He was initially shown a yellow but video review determined that a red card was warranted.
Ruben Perez scored the winner for Leganes by converting an 18th-minute penalty kick.
Valencia’s best chance to equalize also came from the penalty spot, but playmaker Dani Parejo had his shot saved by Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar in the 60th.
Real Madrid visits midtable Granada on Monday looking to reopen a four-point lead on second-place Barcelona and move closer to its first Spanish league title in three years.
Zinedine Zidane’s team would then need another victory – or two draws – from its final two matches to clinch the title.
Barcelona, the two-time defending champion, stayed within a point after a 1-0 win at Valladolid on Saturday.
Athletic Bilbao kept alive its own hopes of qualifying for the Europa League with a 2-1 win at Levante with a double by midfielder Raul Garcia. The result moved Athletic to seventh place.
It was the fourth winless match for Levante, which stayed in 12th place.
Eibar defeated last-place Espanyol 2-0 to end a three-game winless streak and move seven points clear of the relegation zone. That could drop back to four points later Sunday.
It was the seventh straight loss for Espanyol, which had its relegation sealed in the previous round. It will play in the second division after 26 consecutive seasons in the top flight.
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