Levante 0-0 Sporting Gijón
Epic relegation battle in the torrential Valencian rain
Levante had countless chances to get the win to pull them level on points with Sporting, but a lack of cutting edge in the final third proved their undoing.
Levante and Sporting Gijón played out an epic battle in the Ciutat de Valencia last night, with the torrential rain only serving to make it feel even more momentous. The draw, however, does not really suit either of these sides. If anything, Sporting will be the slightly happier, but only because the draw means Levante remain behind them in the league table. The home side were counting on these three points for their bid to avoid relegation and the fact they only took one makes survival even more unlikely for the league’s bottom-placed team.
It didn’t even take five minutes for Levante to create their first chance of the evening, with a Víctor Camarasa effort from around about the penalty spot flying over the crossbar. Pablo Pérez replied for Sporting with a similar goalmouth attempt, but Levante defender Zouhair Feddal was able to clear it. With a quarter of an hour played, Deyverson had a clear sight of goal, but directed his header wide.
Levante were certainly the side doing most of the attacking early on. Their shot-stopper Mariño had a far quitter shift than his Sporting counterpart Cuellar. Sporting were looking to play on the counter attack, but Levante’s Medjani and Feddal did well to mark La Masia graduate Antonio Sanabria out of the game. In one of those Gijón counter attacks, Pablo Pérez scared the home support with an effort that was only stopped by the post. That near miss encouraged Sporting, who finished the first half well, but it remained goalless by the time the players sought cover from the elements at the interval.
The Valencian side came out even hungrier for the three points after the break. José Luis Morales had a good opportunity from a free-kick, while Giuseppe Rossi would be just a few centimeters away from connecting with a good cross from Joan Verdú. By this point, the waterlogged pitch was already very heavy and passing the ball was proving difficult, but still Levante kept trying. Sporting looked as though they would be content with a draw, but their passiveness almost cost them when Rossi had another good effort that whistled just over the bar.
Despite the difficult conditions, the need for points kept both these sides going. The introduction of Mauricio Cuero gave the Valencians a new lease of life and he set up Víctor Casadesús in a late Levante attack, but the ball would strike the post rather than the back of the net. Cuero would again work his magic when he picked out Joan Verdú at the back post, but the Levante midfielder’s effort was blocked. Although the home side kept trying until the very end, they could not break down Sporting Gijón’s defensive wall and the Asturians seemed content not to lose.
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