Monday, 30 April 2012

EPL: The Manchester Rivalry

When Manchester United take on Manchester City at Etihad, the derby match couldn't have get bigger than this. Both the sides will meet today in a possible title decider with City currently sitting at 80 points on the Premier League table, just three points behind the Red Devils. 

United is certainly aware of the fact that they will travel to the Etihad with not only three points clear, but also with a decisively inferior goal difference. There is a chance that City can move to the top of the English Premier League with two games to play if they overthrow rivals Manchester United. 

Both managers are completely alert regarding the importance of the match, as Ferguson tagging the match as the most important in his 26 years of management. He said "It's an important game. I think it will decide the title. We are in a better position than Manchester City. They have to win, we can draw or we can win. We'll be trying to win,". 

City striker Mario Balotelli will be again available for Monday's crunch derby against the Red Devils. The Italian has served a three-match suspension for his sending off at Arsenal earlier this month but it unsure that whether he will be recalled by Mancini given the form of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez. Defender Micah Richards is also fit after missing last week's win at Wolves with a hamstring strain.

On the other hand, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson must decide whether to make changes. At the moment it seems like Full-back Rafael would to be at the most risk of losing his position from the side after the visitors threw away a two-goal valuable lead in the final seven minutes of last encounter with Everton. 

A significant factor to United's game plan will be whether Ferguson sacrifices Danny Welbeck for an extra man in the midfield.

LA LIGA: Real Chances for theTitle

Real Madrid registered a 3-0 comfortable victory over Sevilla as Karim Benzema scored two excellent second-half goals. After the Champions League semifinal exit to Bayern Munich, Madrid is back on the winning track. With this victory, Madrid provisionally moved seven points clear of Barcelona, in the La Liga table. 

Jose Mourinho's men showed no signs of disappointment following the European loss when Ronaldo, Kaka and Ramos failed to convert penalties in Champions League semifinal against Bayern Munich. Now, Madrid has extended its league record goal tally to 112 goals with only three games remaining for the club to further increase the total. 

Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo extended his league record goal total to 43 with a first-half opening goal. That was his 57th goal of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

On the other hand, Barcelona prevented its tradition rival Madrid from seizing the trophy for at least another round as they thrashed Rayo Vallecano with a 7-0 massive victory. Messi, the world player of the year, was almost left in tears following Barcelona's unlikely Champions League exit to Chelsea, was certainly looked refresh in the match.

Barcelona's last weekend home defeat to Madrid, left their traditional rivals on the verge of clinching the title. To make it worse for the side, the Catalans was then overpowered by Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League semifinals in midweek.

However, the biggest blow came on Friday, when Pep Guardiola announced that he would be stepping down as the manager of Barcelona in the summer after a four years dream run where he led Barca to thirteen titles. Losing Guardiola is undoubtedly a big blow for Barca, his assistant Tito Vilanova, will take the responsibility until Barcelona finds Pep's successor. 


SERIE A: Juventus Looking for the Title

With an enormous 4-0 victory on struggling Novara, Juventus inched a step closer to the Serie A title. Mirko Vucinic netted two goals, while Marco Borriello and Arturo Vidal were also on target as A. Conte's men retained their valuable three-point lead over AC Milan at the top. 
Second-bottom Novara is almost down with only 28 points. 

AC Milan maintained their challenge for the Scudetto with an emphatic 4-1 win over Siena that keeps them right behind Juventus with three more games to go. 

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on target twice to extend his lead at the top of the Serie A scoring charts, while Antonio Cassano and Antonio Nocerino were also on target. Ibrahimovic has netted 26 goals in 29 matches. He is followed by Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani with 22 goals and Udinese's Antonio Di Natale with 21 goals. 

Andrea Pirlo of Juventus has the highest number of assist for twelve goals. 

As Juventus and Milan are fighting for the top spot, there are also few teams who are looking for the third position. Napoli, Udinese, Internazionale and Lazio are fighting for the third position with 55 points each. 

All these team are getting desperate to win their remaining matches as they are all aware of the fact that there are only three matches left and even 1 point can make the difference at the end of this season for the qualification of next season Champions League. 

Lambert to Villa Park? Sholdn't he Wait for the Kop?

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert has remarked at the speculations linking him a summer move to Aston Villa as 'extremely unfair'. 

The pressure is increasing on Villa boss Alex McLeish as the Midlands club struggle to stay clear of the relegation dogfight, having been beaten 2-1 at home draw by Bolton in midweek.

By contrast, Lambert has steered the Canaries up into 13th place, with their top-flight status all but secured for another season, some 10 points clear of danger even after the loss to Liverpool last night.

The former Celtic midfielder, 42, accepts transfer rumours about players and even managers is all part and parcel of the game, but insists reports suggesting he was being lined up by Villa owner Randy Lerner already are uncalled for.

He said and I quote, 'Speculation about players is something you can never do anything about. It happens with managers as well and you can never stop that,'

'If my players get linked with other teams, there is not a thing I can do about that. It is the same situation about myself.

'However, it is extremely unfair with me being linked with Aston Villa when they have got a really good manager up there who is doing everything he can to stay in the league.

'It is an unfair comment for me to say anything on that.'

Lambert also talked about Liverpool who may not be challenging for the championship, but have already brought the Carling Cup back to Anfield and next weekend have another Wembley date as they aim to beat Chelsea to win the FA Cup.

Seven defeats in 10 Premier League games - including a 1-0 home reverse to West Brom before the Norwich- have left the Reds well off the pace in the race for a top-four finish and that brings us to the question, Should Lambert wait and watch? Because a call from the Kop is a distinct possibility.

Liverpool are still a formidable team, and Anfield is still full of optimism. There are stars there but if there's one man who could maybe get the most of a rather tepid and scattered midfield it could be Lambert. Liverpool have made some disastrous moves in the transfer market and they need a new start. Two cup finals, yes, but anyone travelling to Anfield at the moment, will fancy their chances. Afterall, Liverpool are a bigger club than Villa, and with a little tinkering and some hope, they could be challenging for Europe, where Lambert as a player won at the highest level. Without a doubt he would fancy doing the same as a manager.

Indeed it will be a tough call for Lambert, I hope he chooses the right team, or rather the right team chooses him; one that in the season to come we will remember with warmth and joy rather than grief. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Pre Match Chelsea-QPR Handshake Cancelled

Taking a strong stance against Racism, the Premier League has suspended the pre-match handshake at Sunday's game between Chelsea and QPR due to the legal battle involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand. 

Ferdinand's lawyers had advised him not to shake Terry's hand - the first time the pair would have met in a Barclays Premier League match since the Chelsea captain was accused of racially abusing the QPR player in October.

After taking legal advice, the Premier League has decided to suspend the customary pre match handshake.

A Premier League statement released for the Press Association read: "The Premier League position on the pre-match handshake convention remains consistent.

"In all normal circumstances it must be observed.

"However, after discussions with both Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers about the potential and specific legal context in relation to John Terry and Anton Ferdinand the decision has been taken to suspend the handshake convention for Sunday's match."

Earlier, the Football Association had cancelled the pre-match handshake when the two clubs met in the FA Cup in January, but the Premier League had initially insisted the handshake between the two sides should go ahead this weekend.This had been their policy when Liverpool met Manchester United following Luis Suarez's ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra - when the Liverpool striker then caused a uproar amongst fans and media by snubbing the French defender.

The Premier League release says that they had little option with respect to Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge. Apparently Ferdinand's lawyers had advised their client that to shake Terry's hand may prejudice the trial of the Chelsea centre-back, while Terry's legal team suggested that it could also prejudice the trial if the QPR player refused to do so.

Ferdinand, who is the younger brother of Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand maintains he is in the right frame of mind to play despite the hostile atmosphere he and his team-mates will face in Sunday's game. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

EUROPA: Biesla's Men Go Marching In

It will be all-Spanish encounter in the final of the Europa League as Athletic Bilbao won the second leg of Europa League semifinal against Sporting Lisbon 3-1, after being 2-1 down in the first leg. They will play La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, who beat Valencia 1-0 (5-2 on aggregate) in the other semifinal.

Marcelo Bielsa's men, who were responsible for Manchester United's early exit in the competition, looked like they are set to take the match into extra-time after goals from Markel Susaeta and Ibai Gomez sandwiched a goal from Rene van Wolfswinkel.

The home side struck the first goal in the 17th minute when Susaeta hit a left footed shot to the upper right corner from the centre penalty area. The assist came from Llorente.

The visitors put themselves back in control of the match two minutes before the break when Van Wolfswinkel fired home from the centre of the box to struck the equalizer.

The home side reacted immediately as Ibai Gomez hits a magnificent right footed shot to the lower right corner from the left penalty area. This time also Llorente was the provider.

In the final phase of the match, when the game looked like heading to extra time, Ibai crossed from the left side of the penalty area and Llorente fired home to seal the tie and send Bilbao to the final.


EUROPA: Madrid Makes It an All Spanish Affair

Atletico Madrid won the second leg of Europa league semifinal against Valencia 1-0 (Aggregate 5-2) at Estadio de Mestalla. Diego Simeone's men will play against their League rivals Athletic Club in the final of Europa League. Adrian's brilliant second-half strike sent Atletico Madrid into the Europa League final with a 1-0 victory at Valencia. 

The 24 year old striker struck a magnificent angled shot into the top corner in the 60th minute to end Valencia's hopes of a comeback in the second leg of the Semifinal.

The hosts, 4-2 down from the first leg, made all possible efforts but failed to score in a one-sided first half as the visitors lived very dangerously, but Adrian was successful to teach them a lesson in the second half of the match.

However, Atletico lost captain Thiago to an unnecessary red card, late in the second half when he was dismissed following a mass confrontation. Now, the Portugal midfielder will be unavailable in final.

Unai Emery's men had appealed for a handball against Thiago when he went up for a header in the area with Ricardo Costa, but the referee, after initially appearing to point to the spot, decided not to give a spot -kick. Replays proved him correct, showing the ball had struck Costa's hand rather than Thiago's.


EPL: Mother of All Ties- Manchester Derby to Decide Title

It was a tale of swinging fortunes for the teams from Manchester this past Sunday. Wayne Rooney scored twice last Sunday against Everton but Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar's late strikes boosted the other team from Manchester, who in their match relegated Wolves with a 2-0 win.

What has transpired over the past 4 days, if Roberto Mancini's side beat their cross town rivals next Monday, they will go top of the league table on goal difference with two games remaining.

Talking to the media, Sir Alex said: "We need a result. It's a derby of amazing proportions."

In the opening Premier League meeting between the Manchester clubs last October, City claimed a famous 6-1 win against depleted United. He added: "It is probably the most important derby game in my time. We have to go there, make sure we perform in the right way and not give away silly goals.

"There's no reason why we can't get a good result. There has been an expectancy from City that this could be their decider, but it's our decider too."

Ferguson said he was perplexed by his team's defensive lapses against Everton and lamented the fact that his side didn't triumph even though Rooney, Welbeck and Nani were all on target.

The sharing of points also overshadowed a day when Rooney moved to fourth on United's all-time goalscorer's list ahead of George Best and Dennis Viollet.

"It was a throwaway, an absolute giveaway," Ferguson added. "We just needed to see the game out.

"It was a travesty because some of the football we played was fantastic and some of the goals we scored were great goals. To give away four goals at Old Trafford in a game that was so important, I just couldn't believe it.

"We've given Manchester City the initiative. It makes the game at the Etihad a really important game, it's a decider really.

"We've made it hard for ourselves as we normally do, but we have to go there knowing that we are capable of getting a result."
It remains to be seen if Roberto Mancini's men sieze the opportunity and lift their first Premier League title.

5 of the biggest Manchester derby's

- 27 March, 1968: United 1-3 City - Goals from Colin Bell, George Heslop and Francis Lee hands City a crucial win at Old Trafford as they eventually pip United to the title by two points.

- 27 April, 1974: United 0-1 City - Denis Law's backheel cements his former side's relegation to the Second Division.

- 6 April, 1996: City 2-3 United - A Ryan Giggs goal at Maine Road keeps City near the drop-zone in a season that sees them relegated on goal difference.

- 10 February, 2008: United 1-2 City: Darius Vassell and Benjani score to give City victory on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

- 12 February, 2011: United 2-1 City: A stunning overhead kick by Wayne Rooney hands United the momentum in their push to win a record-breaking 19th top-flight title.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

EUROPA: Madrid Look To Qualify For Final

Valencia will play Atletico Madrid in the second leg of Europa league at Estadio de Mestalla. Diego Simeone’s side has a 2-0 valuable advantage from the first leg and it is expected that in spite of playing groundaway, this advantage could come handy for qualifying for the final.
Valencia coach Unai Emery is certainly under pressure after the first leg and has labeled the match against Atletico Madrid as the biggest game of his career.
Emery said: "It is the biggest game of my career, for many players too. He added saying "We have to control our anxiety. We work best without thinking about anything else.''
After the first Leg in Europa League Semifinal, both the sides have played one match each in La Liga, where both have registered a comfortable victory against their opponents. Valencia beat Real Betis by 4-0 while Atletico Madrid beat Espanyol by 3-1.
Both the sides will go into this game confident after their wins in La Liga over the weekend and undoubtedly will make all possible efforts to outclass each other. Atletico Madrid will try and repeat their 2010 performance, when they ended up lifting the trophy.

UEFA: Real out in penalty shootout

After Barcelona, now it's Real Madrid which was thrown out of UEFA Champion League last night. Two unbelievable semi-finals have seen off two Spanish clubs. The dream of an El Clasico final dissolved in dramatic fashion. Jose Mourinho's dream of becoming the first coach to win the European Cup with three different clubs was also shattered.

After the penalty shootout, it is clear that Bayern would look to become the first team since Inter Milan in 1965 to lift the trophy at their Home when they play against Chelsea at the Allianz on May 19.

Bastian Schweinsteiger scored the decisive penalty in a shootout that took Heynckes' side through 3-3 on aggregate and 3-1 on penalties.

Things started well for Ronaldo and his side as they were awarded with a spot รข€“kick only in the sixth minute of the match, after the hand ball from Alaba. Ronaldo magnificently struck the goal placing it perfectly into the bottom right corner. In the fourteenth minute he struck again, providing his team a 2-0 valuable lead.

But it wasn't going to be a ride in the park for the Los Blancos. After Pepe pushed Gomez in the area, the visitors were also awarded with the second penalty of the match. This proved the turning point of the match as A. Robben squeezes it home.

The match could have finished in a different manner without penalty shootout but it was the excellent goalkeeping of Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer which was responsible for the match to go in to the shootout. Together they have saved nine goals out of twelve shots on target.

For the home side, it will be a penalty shootout they will never want to watch again. For a side that claims some of the best attacking names in the world like Ronaldo, Kaka and few more it was a disastrous penalty shootout.

David Alaba as well as Mario Gomez were successful to send Casillas the wrong way while Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka both found Manuel Neuer. But, Casillas saved penalties from both Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso struck goal for the hosts. At that time, it looked like the home side was back with a chance.

Ramos' miss was the nightmare for Jose Mourinho's side as Bastian Schweinsteiger then found the back of the net with Bayern's fifth penalty. It was all over for the Real Madrid. Unlike Barcelona though, they can still hope now for the La Liga title. 


Europa: Sporting looking to prevent all-Spanish final

When Sporting will play against Athletic Club in the second leg of Europa league, the visitors will have to be at their best trying for a spot in the Europa League final and to avoid an all-Spanish encounter. Sporting go into this game with 1-0 narrow but valuable first leg advantage. They will find their task at the Estadio San Mames very tough though.
After the first leg, Sporting has won against Nacional by 3-2, who is at the seventh position in the Portugse Primiera Liga points table. This has certainly increased their confidence ahead of the second leg.
On the other hand, Bilbao have been very impressive throughout the Europa League. The Spanish side continued their remarkable run with an impressive 6-4 aggregate win over German side Schalke in the quarter-final and will certainly make things difficult for Sa Pinto’s side.
The away form of the visitors could be a concern for them as they have won only one match in their last ten away matches. Further, Sporting will be absolutely aware of the fact that Marcelo Bielsa’s men are unbeaten in their last eight matches on their home turf and in the last two Europa League home matches they have overpowered Manchester United and have managed a draw against Schalke. 
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Monday, 23 April 2012

EPL: Comfortable Victory For Manchester City

Manchester City kept their title hopes alive as they ousted Wolves by a comfortable 2-0 victory at Molineux. Argentine striker Sergio Aguero gave City the vital lead with an excellent finish in the first half. Clichy fired a magnificent ball behind the last defender for Aguero, who controls, gathers himself and slots past De Vries.
In the 74th minute, the visitors struck again. A quick free-kick was worked to Tevez, who played a magnificent pass to Nasri, and the French international had enough time to take a splendid touch and place the ball low into the far corner.
With this win, the Citizens are only one win away from United and that means the top-two clash next Monday at the Etihad Stadium is shaping up to be the most significant moment in the title race.
However, the visitors took seventeen shots out of which only five were on target. Although, the Citizens have won the match but still this reflects their low accuracy rate. Mancini is absolutely aware of the fact that that goal difference could play a vital role in the end of the season.
On the other side, another defeat for Terry Connor's men means they will be playing Championship football next season. They are at the last of Premier League points table with only 23 points.

EPL: Manchester United Stunned With Late Double

Everton stunned Manchester united as the Reds Devils dropped two vital points in the Premier League title race in an unbelievable 4-4 draw at Old Trafford.
The visitors struck the opening goal of the match. After an excellent header from Nikica Jelavic, United bounce back as Nani crosses and Rooney nods home from six yards out.
In second half, Welbeck the wonder boy struck for A. Ferguson’s side as Everton fail to get the ball clear, and the striker brings it down, moves to his right before slotting it into the top corner. Within three minutes only Nani struck again. A lovely triangle between Carrick and Welbeck sends Nani in on Howard and he dinks the ball delicately into the far corner.
With a 3-1 lead in the second half, it seemed like Manchester United will register a comfortable victory at its home turf. But Everton refused to surrender to what seemed like the inevitable defeat.
Seven minutes later, M. Fellaini struck for the visitors. Hibbert crosses into the area and Fellaini volleys into the corner. De Gea got a touch but he couldn't keep it out.
Rooney struck again in the 69th minute to secure their win with a 4-2 lead over the visitors. Another quality goal as Welbeck crosses for Rooney to finish off in style. But the final was having something else to offer to the spectators.
Two goals in three minutes was a stunner for the home side. D. Moyes men struck back to back goals to make sure that the Red Devils can earn only 1 point in this match.

LA LIGA: Ronaldo Steal the Show with a Late Goal

Cristiano Ronaldo's goal against Barcelona won the match for Real Madrid and perhaps the La Liga title. The Catalans has now lost two games in a row and suddenly their defense as well as attack is a concern for the side.
Thanks to strikes from Sami Khedira and Cristiano Ronaldo, Real now lead the Spanish league by seven points with only four matches in hand, and almost puts an end to Barcelona's hopes of a fourth consecutive crown.
The visitors struck the opening goal in the 17th minute as Valdes spilt Pepe's header and German midfielder Khedira was there to pounce and slide it in from around two yards out.
Barcelona could have reacted well when Messi's sublime through-ball found Xavi but he dragged his effort wide when he had only Casillas to beat. Further, the home side attempt for an equalizer continued in the second half as Tello and Xavi fired shots on goal; however neither effort was on target.
Pep Guardiola introduced Alexis Sanchez with twenty one minutes left and this move paid him instant result. Adriano's follow-up shot was deflected and splendidly palmed away by Casillas, but Sanchez was absolutely prepared to turn it in.
The visitors had the last laugh, as Ronaldo struck the second goal for his team and final goal of the match. An excellent through-ball from Ozil, accurate pass and Ronaldo who struck a right footed finish from a difficult angle on the right side.
Since May 2009, that's the first time that the Catalans has lost back-to-back games, and it is their first home league defeat of the season.

EPL: Sixth Consecutive Win for the Magpies

French international midfielder Yohan Cabaye produced a marvelous performance as Newcastle United cruised past Stoke City to keep their hopes alive for a Champions League berth. He scored twice and also provided that magnificent assist to Papiss Cisse who took his count to 11 goals in 10 matches with a spectacular individual effort.
His valuable contribution facilitated the Magpies to claim their sixth consecutive Premier League victory for which leaves Alan Pardew’s men four points clear of the Blues with just four games in hand.
Sports Direct Arena witnessed the match, which was highly dominated by the home side thanks to the tireless efforts of Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Demba Cisse. Two quick goals within only 4 minutes were enough for their opponents.
Cisse set the platform for Cabaye for the opening goal, as the Senegalese striker's header came back off the bar to fall to the 26 year old midfielder who nodded home magnificently. Four minutes later, it was Cisse, who struck the second goal with a left footed shot from the center of the box to the bottom right corner, assisted by Yohan Cabaye with a through ball.
Finally in the 61st minute, the home side sealed the match with their third goal by Yohan Cabaye. He took a right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner to score his second goal of the match.
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EPL: Goalless result at Emirates

Chelsea showcased another solid defensive display to frustrate the Gunners as their Premier League clash ended goalless at Emirates Stadium. This was undoubtedly one of the most awaited games of the season. However, both sides were unable to net a single goal, and the fans were presented with an unsatisfactory 0-0 draw.
Both visitors and the home side had their opportunities, with Arsenal finding the post twice. Eventually, they failed to put in the kind of performance they are known for.
Like against the Catalans, luck was on Di Matteo’s side as Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny hit the woodwork. One of the major positive for the Blues is the fact the amount of changes Di Matteo made did not lead to an unfavorable outcome. It's certainly a hint of how well the players have reacted to his tactics.
In the early stage of the match when A. Wenger’s men gained possession, the visitors looked happy to sit back and absorb pressure but they looked sharp and really aggressive when they jumped out of their solid defensive structure to attack.
Overall, Arsenal had sufficient of the ball in the closing stages, but failed to make the most of it. On the other hand, Chelsea showed a hard-working effort, and they know that plenty more of the same will be required in the second leg against Barcelona.get free Soccer Live Alert 

Friday, 20 April 2012

EUROPA match report: Sporting CP vs Athletic Club

With two successive late goals, Sporting CP has won the match against Athletic Club in the first leg of Europa League semifinal. The Portugal club has gained a narrow lead and this could certainly pump up their confidence when they play the second leg at Estadio San Mames.
The visitors came from behind and took the lead in 54th minute through Jon Aurtenetxe, when he took a brilliant left footed shot to the lower left corner from the center penalty area. At that particular point, it looked like M. Bielsa's side would be left with the vital advantage for their return to home ground but Sporting staged a tremendous fight back.
The home side drew level through Emiliano Insua as he struck a brilliant header to the lower right corner from the left penalty area. It was Diego Capel, who struck the winning goal for the home side to upset his countrymen. He took a spectacular left footed shot to the lower right corner of the net.
Sa Pinto's side was making all possible efforts for a third goal late on but the visitors managed to keep them out to maintain the required balance ahead of next week's second leg.

EUROPA: Advantage for Madrid

Atletico Madrid ousted Valencia in the first leg of Europa League semifinal by 4-2. With this win, the home side moved a little closer to a second Europa League final in three years.
D. Simeone's men started brightly and in the 18th minute of the match as Turan tried everything to pressurize Rami on the byline. Rami hesitated and Turan managed to wrap his foot around and deliver a ball back, Falcao struck the first goal with an excellent header.
After an early goal from the home side, Valencia also started to gain the momentum and equalized in first-half stoppage time. The corner comes in from the left, Rami flicks it on to the far post and Jonas taps home from two yards.
However, the home side started the next half in even more aggressive manner and scored twice within a span of only nine minutes as Miranda took advantage of some loose marking to head home Diego's accurate free-kick.
To finish things in an excellent manner, R. Falcao struck again in the 78th minute of the match, which was assisted by Diego. It was all over for Valencia in this match but thanks to Ricardo Costa who struck the second goal for the visitors in the dying seconds of the match to make thing more manageable in the second leg at Estadio de Mestalla.