Levante notch late win
Antonio Rukavina's stoppage-time own goal gave Levante a 2-1 victory over Real Valladolid.
Last Updated: 26/01/13 8:14pm
Antonio Rukavina's stoppage-time own goal handed Levante all three Primera Division points as they came from behind to beat Real Valladolid at the Ciutat de Valencia.
Javier Baraja had given the visitors an early lead with a sweetly-struck volley, but Levante responded strongly and - after being denied by a string of fine saves from Dani Hernandez - equalised two minutes before half-time when Jose Barkero curled in a fine free-kick.
After a slow start to the second half both sides had chances in a frantic finale, and it was the hosts who emerged triumphant. Valdo miscontrolled Obafemi Martins' pass, but the loose ball struck Rukavina and deflected past the helpless Dani and into the net.
The win put Levante back among the contenders for the final Champions League place as they move two points behind fourth-placed Real Betis.
Heading into the game on the back of three straight defeats in all competitions, Levante again got off to the worst possible start.
After just eight minutes they failed to clear a corner properly and the ball landed at the feet of Baraja, who superbly volleyed in his first goal of the season.
Pape Diop was twice denied an immediate response by Dani, while Martins should have done better after creating an opening for himself inside the area.
But, after a period of sustained pressure, Levante deservedly got back on level terms as Barkero's left-footed free-kick curled perfectly inside Dani's left-hand post.
The goalkeeper then made a fine save moments later to prevent Barkero from giving the hosts a half-time lead and also repelled a drive from the midfielder just after the restart.
However, as the second half wore on, Valladolid became more of a threat and should have been back in front with 10 minutes remaining when a cross from the right was pulled back to Daniel Larsson just inside the area and his shot looked like it was on its way in until it struck team-mate Javi Guerra - standing right in front of goal - and rebounded to safety.
Minutes later Alberto Bueno nearly surprised Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munua with an audacious attempt from the halfway line that forced the Uruguayan to scramble back to his line to save.
Valdo should then have marked his return for Levante with a goal, but he somehow scooped over Christian Lell's cross from five yards out.
The winger did at least have a hand in the winner, though, as he tried to latch onto Martins' pass inside the area but inadvertently turned the ball into the path of the unfortunate Rukavina, who could only look on in horror as the ball ricocheted into his own net.
And the drama did not end there, as the visitors should have snatched a point three minutes into stoppage time but Marc Valiente headed Juan Angel Neira's cross inches past the far post.