Valencia closer to avoiding drop with win over Madrid; Vinícius again targeted with racist abuse
MADRID (AP) — Valencia moved even closer to staying in the top tier with a 1-0 win over Real Madrid on Sunday but the Spanish league game was marred by more racist abuse against Vinícius Júnior.
The 22-year-old Vinícius, who is Black, has been subjected to racist abuse since he came to play in Spain five years ago. The match had to be temporarily stopped after Vinícius said he was insulted by a fan behind one of the goals at Mestalla Stadium.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said he considered replacing Vinícius, one of the world’s best players, after fans chanted “monkey” toward the Brazil star,
Diego López earlier scored a 33rd-minute winner to leave Valencia five points above the relegation zone entering the final three rounds.
“It's a huge victory that takes us closer to reaching our goal,” Valencia coach Rubén Baraja said.
Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili made two big saves near the end of the match to secure the second win in a row for the club that last played in the second division in 1986-87.
Vinícius was later sent off after an altercation with Valencia players. Vinícius gestured to home fans about their team’s fight against relegation as he left the field.
“If we can ask for our fans to be respectful, we can ask for the same thing from our opponents,” Baraja said.
Madrid, coming off elimination against Manchester City in the Champions League, dropped to third place with its second consecutive loss in all competitions.
ATLETICO IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Atletico Madrid moved to second place and sealed its spot in next year’s Champions League with a 3-0 win against Osasuna at home.
Yannick Carrasco, Saúl Ñíguez and Ángel Correa each scored to give Atletico its 13th win in its last 17 league games.
Osasuna, which has only one win in its last five matches in all competitions, is 10th.
Sevilla and Real Betis didn't manage more than a 0-0 draw in the last Seville derby of the season at Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
The result moved Sevilla to ninth place and left Betis sixth, still in position to secure a European place.
Sevilla was coming off qualifying for the Europa League final with a win over Juventus on Thursday.
ESPANYOL STAYS ALIVE
Sergi Darder opened the scoring and set up Nico Melamed’s winner to lead Espanyol to a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano.
The result moved Espanyol one point from safety going into the final three rounds. It sits second-to-last with the same 35 points as 18th-place Valladolid, which is in the final relegation spot.
Espanyol was relegated in 2020 for the first time in nearly three decades. It returned to the top flight in its first attempt as second-division champion.
It was the third loss in four matches for Rayo, which stayed 11th.
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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press