Last night Levante went into action at home to Udinese looking to win their third game on the trot against Italian oponents. Having beaten Torino 2 – 0, and Atalanta 5 – 2 in their previous two games, the Spanish side were full of confidence.
That confidence looked well placed too, as Levante went 1 – 0 up from a free kick with the first attack of the game on 9 minutes. Angel Romero’s delivery was finished off by Jelle Vossen for his third goal in two games.
The next twenty minutes passed with a booking for each side, and a couple of half chances, but nothing too much. On 31 minutes however, Mate Simao was put through by Diego Souza, but Orestis Karnezis, the Greek in goal for Udinese, was equal to the Mozambique midfielders effort.
Four minutes later it was John Ruddy’s turn to make a great stop at the other end. The Englishman denying Manuel Iturra with a fine save.
There was still time for one final chance before the whistle. A Levante corner was sent over, with Vossen the man again connecting with the set piece, but he failed to beat the keeper.
The second half started quietly, but just past the hour mark John Ruddy was called upon twice within a minute to keep Udinese out. Levante failed to heed the warning signs however, and a couple of minutes after the double save, Ruddy was beaten by a 69th minute free kick from Jonathon Viera.
Things got worse for the Spaniards two minutes later, Manual Iturra making up for his miss in the first half and putting Udinese ahead. Levante didnt give up though, with Vossen clipping one over & N’Jie forcing a good save late on, but the home side were unable to force an equaliser.
The bottom of the table is now very tight and looks like this.
Levante’s next three games see them take on Feyenoord on Thursday, Celta Vigo next weekend, and then Villarreal. Parfitt knows that his side cannot afford to lose any of the games, and really need a minimum of 7 points from the three fixtures to give any kind of realistic hope for the run in. However, with Malaga and Hertha to play as well, the club know that they still have their destiny on their own hands. Levante have also lost 12 points from leading positions so far this season, which would have seen them in the play off places had they shown a little more defensive character.
This is not lost on the gaffer, who recently splashed out a club record £11m to bring Gareth Barry to the club. Some thought this was a very high price for a player of Barry’s age, but Parfitt feels the experience is needed in a dog fight, and also has his eye on another defensive acquisition. There is also a midfielder known to be interesting the club, but nothing will be happening with that at the moment as the player in question is currenty serving a transfer ban.