Valencia vs. Real Madrid: Score and Reaction from 2016 La Liga Match

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Valencia vs. Real Madrid: Score and Reaction from 2016 La Liga Match
JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images

Valencia and Real Madrid played out a classic La Liga match at the Mestalla Stadium on Sunday, drawing 2-2 in a thrilling contest. 

Karim Benzema opened the score for Los Blancos after 17 minutes, but Daniel Parejo equalised from the spot seconds before the half-time whistle.   

Further goals from Gareth Bale and Francisco Alcacer ensured both teams shared the points in a pulsating encounter.

Madrid boss Rafael Benitez made two alterations to the side that started the victory against Real Sociedad, with Nacho and James Rodriguez making way for Sergio Ramos and Mateo Kovacic.

Valencia coach Gary Neville decided to make two changes to his side that started the recent defeat away to Villarreal, with Lucas Orban and Rodrigo De Paul coming into the starting line-up to replace Ruben Vezo and Alvaro Negredo.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

The Galacticos immediately started on the front foot, but Neville's men looked dangerous on the counter-attack against the visitors' high line.

Madrid found their opening into the match through Benzema, as the Frenchman broke the deadlock.

Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were both involved as the pair stole the ball from the Valencia defence, setting up the No. 9 to finish in style. 

ESPN's Dermot Corrigan highlighted Benzema's recent form:

JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images

Despite their lead, Madrid struggled to keep the hosts at bay as they streamed forward with earnest effort and guile. 

Valencia kept the Los Blancos back four on their toes as they rooted themselves in the opposition half, with an equaliser on the cards.

Bleacher Report's Rik Sharma lauded Valencia's charge:

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Los Che earned their rewards in stoppage time of the first half, as Pepe's late challenge on Andre Gomes earned them a penalty.

Pajero stepped up to take the spot-kick, and he slotted the ball away with ease and composure on the half-time whistle.

WhoScored.com provided the vital stats during the break, showing Real had edged Valencia with the ball at feet:

Madrid had fresh impetus after the restart, and Ronaldo and Benzema both threatened the Valencia penalty box.

The Portuguese icon thought he had won a penalty after a clash with goalkeeper Jaume Domenech, but the referee waved away the call. The incident was immediately followed by a wild challenge from Madrid's Kovacic, forcing the official to dramatically brandish a straight red card.

Kovacic clearly had his studs showing as he slid towards Joao Cancelo with no control of his body, leaving the referee with little choice—despite Madrid's protests. 

Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

Real appeared empowered after losing a man, as Bale and Ronaldo flew into the box with pace and menace. 

The Mestalla crowd booed wildly as the Galactico forwards did their best to win the match, as the hosts appeared to lose their fizz in the midfield and in attack. 

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, a Toni Kroos free-kick was met by Bale as the ball was swung into the box, and the Welshman rose brilliantly to flick his header into the top corner of the net.

The goal sparked wild celebrations on the Real bench as Bale sprinted towards his manager, but their celebrations were soon cut short.

JOSE JORDAN/Getty Images

Just one minute later, Valencia were back on level terms, as Alcacer nodded home from close range. Madrid failed to settle in defence after scoring, and a quick attack from the hosts punished their ineptitude. 

Both sides had excellent opportunities to win the game in the final moments of the match but wasted the chances when it appeared easier to score.

The 2-2 draw was the correct score on Sunday night, and the game had everything needed to be a thrilling match.

Madrid will be bemused at failing to win the game, but Valencia were certainly their equal across the full story of the encounter—in one of the season's best spectacles. 

Post-Match Reaction

Benitez was happy with his side's endeavours on Sunday night, as Real twice lost the lead against an effervescent Valencia at the Mestalla, per ESPN's Dermot Corrigan:

Madrid next feature in La Liga on Saturday, Jan. 9 when they host Deportivo La Coruna. Valencia travel to Real Sociedad on the following day. 

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