MADRID – The signing of former Valencia players paid off for Villarreal in their regional derby on Sunday.
Dani Parejo and Paco Alcácer scored a goal each against their former club as Villarreal earned a 2-1 victory in the Spanish league.
Alcácer scored in the first half and Parejo got the winner in the second to put Villarreal in first place with its third win of the season. It has 11 points from six matches, one point more than Real Madrid, Getafe, Cádiz and Granada.
Sixth-place Real Betis can take the outright lead if it beats Real Sociedad at home later Sunday.
“Being at the top doesn’t really mean much now, but the team has been improving,” Villarreal coach Unai Emery said. “We are showing maturity, we should be happy.”
Parejo scored the winning goal in the 69th minute with a right-footed shot from outside the area after a setup by young Japan forward Takefusa Kubo. Parejo’s shot struck the crossbar before going in. He did not celebrate the goal and put his hands together above his head, as if asking for forgiveness.
“Of course now he has to defend his new club, but I think that inside it hurt a little,” Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista said. “But that’s soccer, we have to congratulate him for the goal.”
Parejo moved to Valencia rival Villarreal in the off-season after nearly a decade with his former club. The playmaker had been Valencia’s captain in recent years. Emery said Parejo ended the game with a small muscle injury.
Alcácer, who played for Valencia from 2012-16, opened the scoring for Villarreal by converting a penalty in the sixth minute.
It was the second straight loss for Valencia, which got on the board with a shot from outside the area by Gonzalo Guedes in the 37th.
Kubo, who is on loan from Real Madrid and entered the match in the second half, was sent off in stoppage time after being shown a second yellow card following a sliding tackle.
Eibar drew 0-0 with visiting Osasuna, while Athletic Bilbao ended a two-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over Levante at home. It was the third straight defeat for Levante, which hasn’t scored during the streak.
On Saturday, Real Madrid lost 1-0 at home to promoted Cádiz, while Barcelona lost by the same score at Getafe. Atlético Madrid won 2-0 at Celta Vigo, while Sevilla lost 1-0 at Granada.
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