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Real Madrid's 22-game unbeaten run comes crashing to a halt against Valencia

The hosts dug deep to take all three points.

Image: Alberto Saiz/AP/Press Association Images

VALENCIA CAME FROM behind to snap Real Madrid’s winning streak at 22 games and blow the La Liga title race wide open with a 2-1 win at Mestalla.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half penalty had the visitors on course for a four-point lead at the top, but Valencia roared back after the break with goals from Antonio Barragan and Nicolas Otamendi to move back above Sevilla into fourth.

Madrid now lead Barcelona by just a point with both sides having played 16 games, but the Catalans can move to the top with victory away to Real Sociedad later on Sunday.

“I don’t think we deserved to lose,” said Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti.

We just didn’t have the luck to score when we had the chances to make it 2-0, then to go ahead 2-1 and finally at the end when we had many chances to make it 2-2.”

Victory for Valencia, meanwhile, was a huge boost to start the year they hope will culminate with a return to the Champions League.

Roared on by a vociferous home support, Valencia started with the same intensity that had rocked Atletico Madrid and Barcelona on their visits to Mestalla previously this season.

However, they couldn’t convert that enthusiasm into chances and instead went behind on 19 minutes when Alvaro Negredo handled Gareth Bale’s flick on from Toni Kroos’s free-kick and Ronaldo duly stepped up to fire home his 33rd goal of the season from the penalty spot.

Valencia started the second-half in the ascendency as Gomes sent another shot flying inches wide, but they were finally rewarded when Pepe this time turned a low drive from Barragan past the helpless Iker Casillas.

Bale had a great chance to restore Madrid’s lead when he galloped in behind the Valencia defence seven minutes later, however the Welshman was denied by a fine saving challenge from Otamendi.

Spain Soccer La Liga Source: AP/Press Association Images

And just moments later, the Argentine centre-back was the star at the other end of the pitch as he towered above Ramos to power a header high past Casillas.

The European champions rallied in the final 15 minutes, but couldn’t find an equaliser as Ramos sent a header inches wide before Alves denied Isco with a brilliant save from point-blank range and Otamendi cleared the danger before a Madrid player could pounce on the rebound.

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