Valencia extend winning run to six, putting pressure on Barca
By Richard Martin
(Reuters) - Valencia moved to within a point of La Liga leaders Barcelona by winning 2-1 at lowly Alaves on Saturday, recording a sixth consecutive league victory to post their best ever start to a season.
Simone Zaza opened the scoring in the 34th minute for Marcelino's high-flying side to grab his ninth strike of the campaign and score for the sixth game in a row. Their excellent run came under threat when veteran defender Alexis Ruano headed the hosts level three minutes into the second half.
Former Valencia loanee Munir El Haddadi nearly put Alaves in front with a thunderous strike that was turned away by Brazilian goalkeeper Neto, but the visitors restored their lead after Rodrigo Ely handled a cross in the area.
Spain forward Rodrigo Moreno converted from the penalty spot in the 66th minute to make it seven wins and three draws for Valencia, their best-ever return in the league after 10 games.
"If you had told me when I took over in May that we would be in this position I wouldn't have believed it," Marcelino told a news conference.
"We've tried to do things correctly from the start, we have a great squad on a professional and human level. We never imagined having this many points and being unbeaten after 10 games, especially when we saw the fixture list. We're in a situation we couldn't have predicted but which we deserve to be in."
Barca can stretch their lead at the top of the standings back to four points when they visit Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid host Villarreal while champions Real Madrid visit Girona on Sunday.
(Reporting by Richard Martin,; editing by John Stonestreet and Pritha Sarkar)