Real Madrid suffers first loss under Zidane's second stint
Valencia gave their top four hopes a boost on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid, the first defeat suffered by Zinedine Zidane since his return to the capital club.
Valencia came into the match in seventh, but knew they could close the gap on fourth-placed Getafe after their 1-1 draw at Espanyol on Tuesday.
They took the lead in front of their own fans ten minutes before the break when Goncalo Guedes played a lovely one-two with Carlos Soler and then fired home at the near post.
With the Mestalla rocking, Valencia doubled their lead in the closing stages when Ezequiel Garay headed home from Dani Parejo’s corner. It is the defender’s second goal of the season with the other coming against Barcelona.
A very late header from Karim Benzema got Real on the scoresheet not long after Sergio Ramos had been awarded a penalty kick only for the decision to be reversed after a VAR review. Valencia, however, held out for the win and they are now 17 unbeaten in all competitions.
Valencia move up to fifth, just a point behind Getafe in the Champions League places, while Real Madrid stay third, five points behind Atletico Madrid in second place and a massive 13 points behind table-toppers and rivals Barcelona.
First defeat under Zinedine Zidane underlines Real Madrid’s problems and for this game, one of the trickiest away fixtures in La Liga, Zidane picked what he probably seea as his strongest team. Against both Celta Vigo and Huesca, Real Madrid coasted, but against a much stronger Valencia side in good form, they lacked identity and deserved to lose. On this basis, a dismal, characterless defeat, Zidane has a lot of work to do between now and the start of the 2019/20 season.