Valencia’s Spanish forward Rodrigo celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Spanish league football match Deportivo Alaves vs Valencia CF at the Mendizorroza stadium in Vitoria on October 28, 2017. ANDER GILLENEA / AFP
Valencia maintained their stunning revival under Marcelino Garcia Toral to move to within a point of La Liga leaders Barcelona with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday thanks to Rodrigo’s penalty 24 minutes from time.
Simeone Zaza also moved just two goals behind Lionel Messi as La Liga’s top scorer with nine when he blasted the visitors into the lead 10 minutes before half-time from Manchester United loanee Andreas Pereira’s cut-back.
Alaves remain in the relegation zone with just three points from 10 matches, but they did manage just their fourth goal of the season in a spirited second-half showing.
Alexis rose highest to head home Munir El Haddadi’s corner just four minutes after the break and only a brilliant save from Neto prevented El Haddadi from putting the visitors in front moments later.
However, Alaves undid all their good work early in the second period with a moment of madness from defender Rodrigo Ely as he handled a cross inside his own box.
In the absence of suspended captain Dani Parejo, Rodrigo took responsibility to roll the ball down the centre of the goal to move Valencia up to 24 points, already more than half they achieved all last season in finishing 12th.
Barcelona can regain their four-point lead at the top when they travel to Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday.
Real Madrid, who now trail Valencia by four points, are in action on Sunday amidst a backdrop of political turmoil as they travel to Catalonia to take on Girona.