18.10.2020 20:59 h

Parejo sinks former club Valencia as Villarreal go top

Dani Parejo came back to haunt Valencia on Sunday by scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory for Villarreal, who moved to the top of La Liga.

After making 363 appearances for Valencia, many of them as captain, Parejo was one of a handful of key players allowed to leave the club in the summer.

His deflected shot in the 69th minute was a reminder of what they were missing as Villarreal held on to go one point above Real Madrid.

Despite a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona last month, it has been an encouraging start for Unai Emery, who was appointed coach of Villarreal in July.

They have 11 points from their first six games and lead the table after capitalising on inconsistent starts for La Liga's title favourites.

Madrid and Barca lost to Cadiz and Getafe respectively on Saturday.

Valencia sit 12th, having won just once in their last five matches, with the future of coach Javi Gracia still uncertain.

Gracia was critical of the club after Valencia sold the likes of Parejo and Francis Coquelin to Villarreal, as well as Rodrigo and Ferran Torres to Leeds and Manchester City but failed to make a single addition in the summer transfer window.

Emery was also once at Valencia and so was Villarreal's Paco Alcacer, who opened the scoring with a penalty before Goncalo Guedes levelled shortly before half-time.

Yet Parejo had the last word, receiving a pass from Takefusa Kubo and curling in after his shot deflected off Mouctar Diakhaby.

Villarreal had to play the last few minutes with 10 men, with Kubo sent off in the 90th minute after coming on in the 64th.