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Real Valladolid 1-1 Espanyol: Verde leaves it late to deny visitors top spot

Real Valladolid 1-1 Espanyol: Verde leaves it late to deny visitors top spot

Daniele Verde’s incredible 91st-minute free-kick for Real Valladolid denied Espanyol the chance to become the sole leaders of La Liga on Friday night

Espanyol got off to a bright start at the Estadio José Zorrilla in their mission to leapfrog Catalan rivals Barcelona for the top spot in La Liga.

However, Valladolid soon recovered from a shaky start and turned the tide of the game in their favour.

Nacho, in particular, looked dangerous down the wing with Leo Suárez nearly scoring the opener after a mix-up by Espanyol.

But suddenly Melendo’s interception led Borja Iglesias to score a spectacular long-range goal for Espanyol.

The former Celta Vigo forward’s fifth La Liga goal of the season proved unstoppable for Valladolid goalkeeper Masip.

Afterwards, Valladolid stepped up their efforts to score with Michel and Rubén Alcaraz both having attempts on goal.

Los Blanquivioletas’ efforts on goal, however, left them exposed defensively and allowed Espanyol chances for a second.

But the ever-impressive Masip kept the scoreline at 1-0 heading into the break after impressively denying Pérez’s effort.

After the interval, Valladolid began pressuring an increasingly conservative Espanyol side in search of an equaliser.

The untiring Toni Villa and Nacho continued to threaten from the left wing, but Espanyol resisted well and hardly gave away any opportunities.

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However, after Victor Sanchez brought down Alcaraz, substitute Verde scored with a stunning free-kick in the 91st minute of the match to hand the hosts a deserved point.

It was the Italian’s first ever La Liga goal, and it extended Valladolid’s unbeaten run to six games.

Sergio González’s men, who remain sixth in La Liga, will next face a daunting trip to Real Madrid next Saturday in the league.

Meanwhile, Espanyol are level on points with Barcelona before the league leaders face Real in El Clasico on Sunday.

TEAM LINE-UP

Real Valladolid: Masip; Javi Moyano (Daniele Verde, 74), Kiko Olivas, Calero, Nacho; Antoñito, Míchel, Alcaraz, Toni Villa (Ivi, 87); Leo Suárez (Óscar Plano, 55), Enes Unal.

Espanyol: Diego López; Javi López, David López, Hermoso, Dídac; Hernán Pérez (Pablo Piatti, 46), Marc Roca, Melendo (Victor Sanchez, 66), Darder; Sergio García (Óscar Duarte, 78), Borja Iglesias.