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Valencia, FC Barcelona produce thrilling draw

(Xinhua)

10:43, September 22, 2011

Valencia's Jordi Alba (L) falls next to Barcelona's Pedro Rodriguez during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, September 21, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

MADRID, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- League leaders Valencia and reigning champions FC Barcelona produced 90 minutes of thrilling football in the Mestalla Stadium.

Barcelona were able to battle back from falling behind twice in the match to take a valuable point.

Valencia took the lead thanks to an own goal from Eric Abidal early in the match, only for Pedro Rodriguez to equalize two minutes later.

Pablo Hernandez restored Valencia's lead after 22 minutes as the game turned from end to end, but Cesc Fabrigas saved a point and Barcelona's unbeaten record 13 minutes from time when he equalized from a Leo Messi pass.

Barcelona had chances to win the match in the closing minutes, but a defeat would have been harsh on a Valencia side that is well organized and hard working and for the moment at least offers an alternative to the Barca-Real Madrid duopoly.

In contrast to Valencia and Barcelona, Real Madrid produced a horrible performance to only draw 0-0 away to Racing Santander.

Coach Jose Mourinho made changes to his side with Sergio Ramos and Angel de Maria on the substitutes' bench, but his side never really looked like beating Racing and managed just two shots on target all game.

Oscar Serrano had the best chance of the game for Racing with a shot well saved by Iker Casillas, while at the other end Tono, did well to tip over from De Maria, who came into the game as a second half substitute.

With the draw in Santander and Sunday's defeat against Levante, Real Madrid have dropped five points from two teams, who are among the favorites for relegation.

A fine free kick taken by Malaga winger Santi Cazorla gave his side a 1-0 win at home to Athletic Club Bilbao. Athletic have lost their last three matches and under coach Marcelo Bielsa the Basques are suffering their worst start in over 30 years.

Radamal Falcao scored his second hat-trick in a week as Atletico Madrid beat Sporting Gijon 4-0. Alvaro Dominguez scored the other goal as Atletico produced another fine display against a Sporting side that has lost its first four matches of the season.

Wednesday also saw Levante win 2-1 away to Rayo Vallecano. Valdo and Sergio Ballesteros but the visitors 2-0 ahead and although Raul Tamudo pulled a goal back for Rayo, Levante held on for their second win in two matches.

Three games were played on Tuesday night. Osasuna recovered from their 8-0 defeat away to Barcelona on Saturday by holding Sevilla to a 0-0 draw in Pamplona, the home side claimed they should have had a penalty for a second half handball from Sevilla's Diego Perotti.

Real Sociedad took their second win of the campaign with a 1-0 win against Granada. Defender Dani Estrada scored a 63rd cross-shot to give the Basque side all three points.

Finally Villarreal returned to winning ways against a Mallorca side that looks worse with every game. Giuseppe Rossi after seven minutes and Nilmar early in the second half put Villarreal on their way to a 2-0 win.

It was Villarreal's first triumph of the season, while Mallorca have lost their last three games.

Thursday sees Espanyol entertain Getafe and Betis receive the visit of Zaragoza, knowing they will go top of the table if they win.


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