Neville still awaiting 1st win after Valencia draw

Valencia English head coach Gary Neville (right) reacts during the Spanish King's Cup on Jan 6, 2016.
Valencia English head coach Gary Neville (right) reacts during the Spanish King's Cup on Jan 6, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

VALENCIA • The pressure on Gary Neville is mounting as his winless streak as Valencia manager in La Liga stretched to six games yesterday.

Despite Paco Alcacer's late strike, Valencia could manage only a 2-2 draw at home with relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano.

Los Che were heavily favoured to end a two-month run without a league win against a Rayo side who had lost six of their previous seven league games - conceding 23 goals in the process. But the visitors dominated the first half and took a deserved lead when Jozabed swept home Adrian Embarba's cross on the volley.

"It's hard to explain what happened in the first half. It was a very disappointing performance," Neville told the club's official website.

"There are two positives from the game: Our response in the second half and the fact that the players showed a will to fight. But the first half was unacceptable."

The Valencia manager was at least rewarded for his decision to start Alvaro Negredo over top scorer Alcacer in attack, with the striker repaying that faith in sensational style. Negredo fired home from just inside the Rayo half to get Valencia back into the game 10 minutes after the break.

Rayo, however, took advantage of more poor defending from Valencia, to retake the lead when Diego Llorente looped shot from Jozabed's corner left Australian goalkeeper Matt Ryan helpless.

Alcacer replaced Negredo for the last 25 minutes and scored his 10th goal of the season five minutes from time, when he bundled home Zakaria Bakkali's cross.

Yet, Valencia still remain closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League places. They are 16 points behind Villarreal in fourth and eight ahead of Rayo, who had more shots (18-13) and efforts on target (8-5) yesterday.

Whistles and jeers were audible at the Mestalla Stadium during the match, as fans called for Neville's head - barely six weeks since his appointment.

The former Manchester United defender has now drawn four and lost two games in La Liga, with his side scoring seven goals and conceding 10.

"We have to correct this immediately," he said. "The fans can express themselves as they like, and we have to respect that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'Neville still awaiting 1st win after Valencia draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe