Valencia 0-1 Sporting Gijon: Gary Neville's Valencia go eight La Liga games without a win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 01/02/16 7:24am
Gary Neville's winless La Liga run as Valencia coach stretched to eight games on Sunday as his side were beaten 1-0 by relegation-threatened Sporting Gijon.
The hosts were the dominant side for most of the game but failed to take a string of chances and fell behind to Antonio Sanabria's penalty on 50 minutes.
They continued to throw everything at their opponents but Alvaro Negredo missed several opportunities to equalise and Los Che suffered a third league defeat under Neville - their first home loss in La Liga since 2014.
Neville's side stay 12th in the table - 19 points from fourth place - while Sporting move two points away from the relegation zone
The Asturians brought an emphatic end to a five-game losing streak in the league last weekend with a 5-1 win against Real Sociedad 5-1 thanks to a hat-trick by Sanabria, while Valencia averted defeat at Deportivo La Coruna courtesy of a stoppage-time equaliser by Negredo and reached the Copa del Rey semi-finals with a 1-0 midweek win at Las Palmas.
Neville was able to give Sofiane Feghouli his first start in over two months after the Algeria international made his comeback from injury in midweek, but newly appointed captain Paco Alcacer was still injured, so Negredo led the line and wore the armband.
Neville and Sporting coach Aberlardo Fernandez were on opposite sides when England beat Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals of Euro 1996, and the Englishman certainly got the better of the Spaniard in the first half.
Pablo Piatti headed over inside two minutes and had a shot fisted away by Ivan Cuellar later on, Negredo had a penalty appeal turned down, while Feghouli curled over in a dominant opening half-hour for the hosts.
The clearest chance, though, fell to Negredo, who sped towards goal inside the box but lost his footing as he shaped to shoot, and seeing his shot saved, with neither Feghouli nor Piatti able to make anything of the rebound.
Sporting had spent most of the game soaking up the home team's pressure but took the lead to the shock of the Mestalla faithful five minutes into the second half.
Jony Rodriguez was clipped as he attempted to beat Danilo Barbosa, and Sanabria sent Matthew Ryan the wrong way to score his 10th goal of the season - and his fourth in two games.
The spot-kick saw Valencia fell behind for an eighth successive league game under Neville and they are still yet to take the lead in a league game in his brief reign.
Valencia almost responded five minutes later, with Negredo heading a corner onto the far post.
But it was far from the last moment of anguish for the former Manchester City striker, who smashed into the side-netting after being gifted the ball unchallenged with just the goalkeeper to beat, lifting the ball over the bar after Jose Gaya had cut it back to him inside the area.
Valencia still could have levelled, substitute Rodrigo Moreno glancing a header just wide of the far post and Feghouli missing a one-on-one in added time, and at the final whistle, boos rang out at an immensely frustrated Mestalla.