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Slavia stand firm to halt Valencia

Valencia CF 1-1 SK Slavia Praha
The Spanish outfit surrendered top spot in Group B to LOSC Lille Métropole as the visitors picked up their first point in the section.

Jordi Alba tries to escape from Slavia's Ondřej Čelůstka
Jordi Alba tries to escape from Slavia's Ondřej Čelůstka ©Getty Images

Valencia CF surrendered top spot in Group B to LOSC Lille Métropole after a 1-1 draw against SK Slavia Praha left them on five points from three games, with the visitors opening their account in the section.

Travel sickness
The omens were not favourable for Karel Jarolím's men given they had not won in eleven away European fixtures while Valencia had never lost, or even conceded a goal, against a side from the Czech Republic. But the Mestalla fell silent when Riste Naumov gave Slavia a half-time lead and defender David Navarro had to head in after the break to save the Spanish outfit.

First attempt
Neither side had presented a threat until the visitors forged in front after 28 minutes. Adam Hloušek escaped down the left flank and held off Miguel to reach the byline before finding Naumov, who controlled his finish from six metres. Martin Vaniak was finally called into action after 36 minutes, the 39-year-old parrying Hedwiges Maduro's long-range drive, before clutching a Míchel effort on the line after it had initially evaded his grasp.

Away chances
Slavia spurned a presentable chance to double their lead when Naumov was denied his second by Miguel Ángel Moyá and Zdeněk Šenkeřík's follow-up was blocked by Navarro with the goal otherwise unguarded. A counterattack after the break caused similar chaos in Los Ché's rearguard, Moyá forced into saves in quick succession from Šenkeřík and Peter Grajciar.

Red cards
Unai Emery unleashed Juan Mata and David Villa from the bench in the second half as he sought to protect his 12-match unbeaten European record at the Valencia helm, and his side levelled when Navarro rose to head in a Pablo Hernández free-kick. Both teams were then reduced to ten men – Slavia's Hocine Ragued receiving a second booking for a foul on Rubén Baraja and Villa dismissed for an incident involving Benjamin Vomáčka – with Pablo coming closest to a late winner when his free-kick struck the bar.