Valencia had to dig deep in Week 12 of the 2017-18 La Liga season to keep their great run going, but Los Che grabbed a 2-0 win against Espanyol to set up a huge meeting with leaders Barcelona in their next outing.
The win was a historic one for Los Che:
Espanyol were the better side for large stretches of the match, but Valencia ground out a tough win to move within four points of the Blaugrana.
Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal shared the spoils, while Levante and Malaga boosted their chances in the fight against relegation with wins.
Here's a look at Sunday's results:
- Malaga 3-2 Deportivo
- Espanyol 0-2 Valencia
- Las Palmas 0-2 Levante
- Athletic 1-1 Villarreal
Here are the standings and point totals for all clubs. For a look at the complete table, visit WhoScored.com:
1. Barcelona, 34
2. Valencia, 30
3. Real Madrid, 24
4. Atletico Madrid, 24
5. Sevilla, 22
6. Villarreal, 21
7. Real Sociedad, 18
8. Real Betis, 17
9. Leganes, 17
10. Getafe, 16
11. Girona, 16
12. Levante, 15
13. Celta Vigo, 14
14. Espanyol, 13
15. Athletic, 12
16. Deportivo La Coruna, 11
17. Eibar, 8
18. Malaga, 7
19. Alaves, 6
20. Las Palmas, 6
Unbeaten Valencia have emerged as unlikely title contenders after a sensational start to the season, but they didn't have it easy in their final match ahead of the huge showdown with Barcelona at home next Sunday.
In the Catalan capital against Blaugrana rivals Espanyol, Los Che were second-best for much of the contest, and when Geoffrey Kondogbia opened the scoring with a stunning strike, ESPN FC's Samuel Marsden thought they were stealing the three points:
Santi Mina added to the lead late in the second half, securing an eighth straight win for Valencia and reducing the gap at the top of the standings to four points again.
The Blaugrana grabbed a 3-0 win over Leganes on Saturday and will play on Wednesday at Juventus in the UEFA Champions League before they face Valencia. Los Che appear to have the edge in momentum, and Barcelona's defensive depth will face a major test at the Mestalla due to a suspension for Gerard Pique.
The club is making a desperate attempt to turn over the suspension:
In Sunday's other marquee matchup, the ageless Aritz Aduriz rescued a point for struggling Athletic Bilbao against Villarreal. Manuel Trigueros had given the Yellow Submarine the lead after missing a penalty earlier, but the 36-year-old Aduriz tied things up in the second half with one of his typical headers.
Malaga, meanwhile, grabbed a much-needed second win of the season at home against Deportivo La Coruna, and Levante flew to the Canary Islands to beat Las Palmas.