Madrid held at home by Valencia

Real Madrid missed the chance to close the gap on La Liga’s leaders after drawing 2-2 with Valencia.

Jeremy Mathieu opened the scoring minutes before half-time, taking advantage of some slack marking to divert Dani Parejo’s corner into the back of the net.

Ramos equalised after Cristiano Ronaldo headed a deep cross back across goal. The lay-up was met by the centre-back who netted from close range, his fourth goal in three games.

Parejo restored Valencia’s lead soon after, Fegouli’s cross deflected to the edge of the area and met by the former Madrid midfielder, who slotted calmly past Diego Lopez.

Ronaldo netted a second equaliser in the second minute of injury time, somehow twisting to volley past Diego Alves, facing away from goal when he made contact with the ball

A win would have put Madrid in a powerful position in the title race after Barcelona were held at home to Getafe on Saturday and leaders Atletico Madrid were beaten earlier on Sunday by Getafe.

Los Blancos went into the match in third place, three points behind Barca and six adrift of Atleti, although they still have a game in hand – at home to Real Valladolid – after this.

A Valencia win would have kept them in the running for a Europa League place, but the draw means Villarreal, seven points clear in seventh place, can't be caught in the final two games.

Carlo Ancelotti made a number of changes to the starting XI from the midweek win over Bayern Munich, Lopez Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Asier Illarramendi and Isco coming in to the side.

Sami Khedira is among the substitutes, his first involvement in a Madrid squad since suffering a serious knee injury on international duty with Germany.

Valencia also made a handful of alterations from their European fixture which saw Sevilla progress to the Europa League final on away goals. Paco Alcacer and Javi Fuego came in for Jonas and Pablo Piatti.

Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both had early sightings for Madrid but it was Valencia who went closest, Parejo’s header tipped onto the crossbar by Lopez.

The Portuguese drew another save from Alves but Madrid struggled to fashion a chance as presentable as Parejo’s. On the rare occasions they did break down Valencia, Diego Alves was in top form. The Balon d’Or winner was again kept out by the Brazilian moments before Valencia went in front.

 Lopez was tested Sofiane Feghouli and the resulting corner saw Madrid’s defence crumble, Mathieu heading Lopez from only a few yards out.

Angel Di Maria was introduced for the second-half and was booked shortly after, having argued for a penalty for handball and received a caution for an incident that followed.

Madrid grew visibly frustrated and gave away a needless free-kick that almost brought a second Valencia goal. This time Lopez was alert and kept out Alcacer’s header.

The home side kept coming forward in search of an equaliser but were denied again by Alves. A firmly struck Ronaldo half volley drew another sprawling save but Alves could do nothing about Ramos’ equaliser.

Lopez was equally helpless when the ball fell to Parejo on the edge of the Madrid area soon after, parity lasting only seven minutes. There was nearly a fourth goal when Ronaldo and Alves again duelled almost straight from kick-off, the goalkeeper once more coming out on top.

Madrid’s frustrations returned when Carjaval reacted to a hefty challenge with a swinging arm, the inability to beat Alves a second time getting to the title challengers. Ronaldo had yet another attempt, this time from a free-kick, and his fiercely-struck effort was batted away.

Not once were Valencia’s back four exposed to a Madrid counter-attack, the defence sitting deep and expertly protected by the visitors’ midfield, not least the outstanding Seydou Keita.

Five minutes of injury time was added on and Ronaldo finally got on the score sheet in it and arguably should have had a second but sent his header wide. Morata also went close to delivering three points but the game stayed level to leave the title race in the balance.

Real Madrid 2-2 Valencia

Ramos 58, Ronaldo 90+2 (RM), Mathieu 44, Parejo 65 (V)

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez; Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Illarra (Di Maria 46), Xabi Alonso, Isco (Casemiro 71); Bale, Cristiano, Benzema (Morata 84)

Valencia: Alves; Joao, R. Costa, Mathieu, Bernat; J. Fuego, Keita; Feghouli, D. Parejo (Vezo 89), Vargas; Alcacer (Jonas 67)