Girona top Liga with superb late Valencia comeback

Girona top Liga with superb late Valencia comeback

© AFP 2022
December 2, 2023 at 3:13 PM
Girona's Spanish coach Michel (L) and players celebrate as they came from behind to beat Valencia at Montilivi
Girona's Spanish coach Michel (L) and players celebrate as they came from behind to beat Valencia at Montilivi. Photo: LLUIS GENE / AFP
Source: AFP

Girona sprang a stunning late comeback to beat Valencia 2-1 on Saturday and breathe fresh life into their shock La Liga title bid.

Trailing to Hugo Duro's 56th minute strike with under 10 minutes remaining, the Catalan minnows finally broke down Valencia's walls to move provisionally three points clear at the top of the table.

Veteran striker Cristhian Stuani levelled after 82 minutes and Cristhian Mosquera turned a cross into his own net with two minutes to go, with both goals created by Yan Couto crosses as fans at Girona's tiny Montilivi stadium went wild.

After dropping two points in a draw with Athletic Bilbao on Monday, Girona seemed poised to fall to only their second defeat of the season.

Towering striker Artem Dovbyk missed arguably Girona's best chance until their late goals in the first minute, with Giorgi Mamardashvili parrying his strike after he cut in from the right.

The Catalans suffered a setback when Yangel Herrera limped off injured and was replaced by Pablo Torre, on loan from Barcelona.

Ruben Bareja's well-drilled Valencia shut down the usually free-scoring hosts throughout, limiting them largely to half-chances.

Dovbyk also wasted another rare presentable opportunity before half-time, as the Ukrainian forward tried to flick the ball past Mamardashvili, who again denied him.

The Georgian goalkeeper made a fine save to thwart Girona playmaker Aleix Garcia in the 54th minute and Valencia quickly reaped further reward.

Duro intercepted a pass on the half-way line, tearing into the empty space ahead of him and dinked a cute finish over Paulo Gazzaniga.

Baraja threw on more defenders from the bench to further frustrate Girona, setting Dimitri Foulquier to man-mark Brazilian winger Savinho, who was starting to thrive after Michel switched him to the right.

Substitute Stuani could have pulled Girona level but directed his header at Mamardashvili when Viktor Tsygankov found him at the back post, although he quickly made amends.

Couto, on from the bench, whipped in another cross to the same area a minute later and Stuani was on hand to convert from point blank range.

The defender, on loan from Manchester City thanks to the City Football Group's stake in Girona, then aimed another cross towards Stuani, but Mosquera got their first and bundled into his own net.

Girona thought they had a third goal in stoppage time when Savinho blasted home, but it was ruled out for offside against Cristian Portu.

In only their fourth season in the top flight in their history, Girona keep finding ways to surprise.

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© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022