Good evening everyone and welcome to our live coverage as relegation-threatened Levante take on fellow strugglers Eibar in La Liga. Tonight's hosts are looking for three points to help lift themselves out of the drop-zone, while the visitors need to put an end to a run of six straight defeats.
Levante are in desperate need of points as they look to climb away from the danger zone. I win tonight would take them to within just two points of Gaizka Garitano
's charges. The hosts are also riding high off the back of an important victory against Rayo Vallecano in their last fixture.
Despite a strong start to this La Liga campaign, Eibar are seemingly fading fast. They've suffered defeats in each of their last six encounters, with the most recent one coming in a listless display at home to their Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao.
We're expecting Levante to be given a boost tonight as they expect to welcome back Ivan Ramis
from suspension, and he should partner David Navarro
in the centre of the defence. It appears as though David Barral
and Kalu Uche
should continue together in attack, but we'll confirm that when we have some team news in.
Stand-in stopper Jaime
had a terrific game for Eibar against Bilbao having produced a number of high-quality saves, and the visitors could well retain his services tonight. Abraham
is the only absentee.
Some team news for you now, then...
LEVANTE STARTING XI: Marino; Morales, Navarro, Ramis, Tono; Camarasa, Simao, Xumetra, Barral, Ruben, Uche
LEVANTE SUBSTITUTES: Fernadez, Vyntra, El Zhar, Rafael, Juanfran, Casadesus, Jose Mari
EIBAR STARTING XI: Jaime
; Boveda, Ekiza, Capa, Dani Garcia, Lekic, Lillo, Manu, Saul Barjon, Raul Navas, Javi Lara
EIBAR SUBSTITUTES: Irureta, Errasti, Dani Nieto, Borja, Piovaccari, Anibarro, Arruabarrena
As expected Uche and Barral lead the Levante line and they'll be handed some creative support from the likes of Jordi Xumetra and Ruben sitting a little deeper. As for the visitors, they've made several changes, with both Federico Piovaccari and Txema Anibarro dropping to the bench after the defeat to Bilbao.
Levante should fancy themselves tonight, especially given Eibar's recent record. Statistics show that tonight's visitors drawing at half time and losing at full time in their last 3 away matches in La Liga. They have also gone four games without scoring in the Spanish top flight.
The hosts have a fairly good record at home this season, which shows just one loss in their last 10 home games in Valencia. When compared to each other, Levante are undefeated in their last 5 matches against Eibar in all competitions.
Time for a prediction before the start of the game, and I'm going to say that Levante will grab a much-needed victory tonight. Eibar have been very poor in their last six games, while tonight's hosts are coming off the back of a vital win over Rayo. Uche and Barral will be a handful and Eibar appear far too short of the confidence needed in order to earn a win on the road.
Eibar haven't scored on the road since mid-January and that will surely be in the back of their collective mind this evening.
Finding the net on a few more occasions could go some way to solving Eibar's current problems. They've lost with just a one-goal margin in their last three league fixtures.
We should be in for some goalmouth action tonight. Stats show that there have been over 2.5 goals scored in Levante's last four games in Spain's top division.
The players have now gathered on the pitch as we await the start of the first half. Levante are dressed in red and blue stripes, while Levante are in a light blue strip.
KICKOFF! Eibar get things going with a lumped ball forward, which is easily negotiated by Tono at the left full-back position for Levante.
The hosts have started brightly with some neat work from Morales down the right wing. He beats his man at full-back, but his cross is headed away by Capa at the first time of asking.
Levante haven't been afraid to pass the ball in these early stages. They move it around smoothly at the back before progressing down the right flank through Xumetra, whose cross flies out for a goal kick with both Barral and Uche waiting in the middle.
Eibar will be asking Garcia and Lara to get on the ball often this evening, they haven't had much chance as yet though. It's all Levante as it stands, Simao pings it out to the right this time into the path of Morales, but again the cross is poor and some good build-up play turns into nothing.
Some lovely teamwork from the hosts sees Navarro pick out Xumetra with a long-ball in behind the defence, he beats his man and then finds Morales, who does well to get to the byline and cross, that is until he's crowded out by a thankful Lillo.
Eibar have failed to get into this yet, but they get their foot on the ball for the first time and Moral almost causes problems with a late run into the box, leaving Ramis to read the play well and hoof the ball out of danger.
SHOT! Morales has seemed lively for the hosts already, and this time he cuts in from the right to flash a speculative shot from distance towards Jaime. The keeper has it covered all the way despite its power and he makes a comfortable save in the centre of goal.
CLOSE! Almost for the visitors! A wonderful, cutting ball is sent across the pitch into an on-rushing Capa who beats the offside trap. Marino comes haring off his line and looks stupidly out of place. Capa tries to round him but is forced too wide by some great covering defending from Navarro and the chance passes.
Eibar get the chance to whip a ball in from a free kick on the right-hand side. It's sent towards the back-post and Navarro has to make a great head to avert the ball from the path of Lekic.
Levante break on the counter attack and Uche feeds Barral down the right flank. The attacker waits for the overlap from Morales, who then sends a ball into the box. It's got a little too much height on it, allowing Jaime to come off his line and claim with two hands.
PENALTY SHOUT! Oh, this looks a tad iffy. Barral pings a delivery across the face of the box where Uche is scrambling to meet it. He goes tumbling under the challenge of a battling Navas, leaving the referee to wave play on. Levante seem a little miffed.
CLOSE! The ball breaks to Uche on the right side of the box and he slips it into the feet of Garcia. He crashes a low effort towards goal, but Navas is across well to make a timely block.
Nothing too clear-cut as yet, but both sides are starting to put some passes together. Levante have perhaps edged this opening period, however we still find ourselves at 0-0.
Lekic is brought down around 25 yards from goal and Eibar have a free kick in a strong position just to the right side of the box. Lara's delivery is pretty woeful, much to the annoyance of his teammates, as the ball goes flying over the bar without testing Marino who is unmoved.
Levante's play has been fairly good up until the final-third of the pitch. This time Morales looks to run in behind the defence, but his movement is thwarted by a poor delivery. Morales gets another chance to cross following a throw, with the delivery allowing Jaime to come out and collect calmly.
YELLOW CARD! Some wonderful footwork from Lekic sees the striker skip in behind a fooled Simao, who has no choice but to bring his opponent down in front of goal. Cynical but necessary from the midfielder.
Javi Lara is in charge of taking the resulting free kick, which is positioned just on the edge of the box to Marino's left. The midfielder is wasteful yet again and his kick fails to clear the wall.
Uche has been virtually anonymous tonight. He'll need to start making some of those trademark runs in behind the defence to make some space in this congested midfield we are seeing tonight. Danger almost as Eibar's Capa swings in a great ball towards Saul, but Ramis gets a foot in to clear at the vital moment.
YELLOW CARD! Wonderful work from Xumetra sees him skip past his marker onto a rolling ball. He heads towards the box where he is brought down by Ekiza who takes a booking for his troubles. The free kick is sent in towards Barral, but Jaime does well to take control with the ball in-flight.
Following that great piece of skill Xumetra frustrates with a terrible effort on the edge of the box. It looks like it might go out for a throw as he lashes horribly and sends the ball into the ether.
CLOSE! Eibar look to send a message back now as Moral finds space just in front of the box. He charges forward and drills a shot towards goal, which requires a foot from Navarro to send it wide.
This fixture is starting to open up, but neither side have the required quality to capitalise in the dangerous areas at the moment.
HALF TIME: LEVANTE 0-0 EIBAR
The referee brings an end to the half, with both sides starting to find their feet near the end of it. Lucas Alcaraz and his side have perhaps enjoyed the better of the play, especially down the right, but Eibar have threatened too. The away side look dangerous when the home defence drops and leaves Capa and Moral with room to operate.
Neither goalkeeper has had to make a proper save, but we've had some good blocks at the last-minute. Jaime has looked to kick on from his impressive showing for Eibar against Bilbao with another strong performance tonight. The stopper has controlled his box well and came off his line to claim when needed.
You could argue that the hosts have been the more enterprising of the two teams. Heat maps show that Levante have held 315 touches of the ball, compared to Eibar's 207.
It's in midfield where Eibar are letting themselves down at the moment. Lara has had some decent chances to produce from set-pieces, while Garcia has been reluctant to get his foot on the ball and try to control the play.
Lekic has been threatening with the ball at his feet, but he hasn't made enough troubling runs for Moral and Capa to feed. Eibar always have Piovaccari to bring on up top if they need to.
As you might have already predicted, Levante held much more of the ball in the first half. The hosts had 64.5% possession. If Eibar aren't going to look to threaten on the counter, they'll need to change those statistics if they want to get something from this match.
The players are back out on the pitch as we await the start of the second period...
KICKOFF! Levante get us going here and the ball is fed unashamedly into the path of Uche, but Eibar have no problem clearing up-field.
SAVE! That's more like it from the away side... They win the ball back in midfield and it's quickly fed into the feet of Saul who looks to push off the back of the defenders. The attacker spins in behind and advances towards the keeper, but Marino makes a smart stop down low to keep out the flicked effort from the Eibar playmaker. Great stop.
Levante move the play with pace down to the other end where Morales finds space on the right. He sends in a testing ball that is dealt with well by Ramis who clears at the first opportunity.
A lively start to the second period, that's for sure. Eibar's chance has to be the best of the game so far and it took some strong goalkeeping to ensure that Levante remain on level terms.
CLOSE! Levante come under intense pressure from a corner and the ball breaks to Dani Garcia at the back-post. The midfielder lashes a volley at goal, but it flies high and wide without troubling the Levante keeper this time.
GOAL! LEVANTE 0-1 EIBAR (SAUL BERJON)
Eibar have done it, they've gone in front! The ball is dinked towards Saul inside the Levante area and he backs off his marker to produce a world-class volley that flies past a helpless Marino. A brilliant piece of football, great movement and the finish to boot. Can Eibar end this torrid run?
The home side are going to need to do something about this, they've had no reply to Eibar's change of gear in the second half.
More great work from Jaime in the Eibar goal sees his side stay in front. A ball from the left is whipped into the path of Uche, who looks to back into the away stopper. However, the keeper holds firm to collect before winning his side an important free kick to relieve the pressure.
GOAL! LEVANTE 1-1 EIBAR (DAVID BARRAL)
Levante pull level! They only have themselves to blame as they allow substitute Errasti to maraud down the right before flicking a pass inside to Barral inside the box, he curls a neat shot that is missed by everyone and it ends up in the far corner.
GOAL! LEVANTE 2-1 EIBAR (IKECHUKWU UCHE)
The hosts have come from absolutely nowhere to find themselves ahead. It's down to more poor defending from Eibar as both Boveda and Ekiza fail to clear, leaving Uche to feed on the scraps and he makes no mistake by rifling across the face of goal past Jaime who stands helpless. A crazy few minutes here at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia.
What must the away side be thinking now? Two pieces of poor defending and they find themselves behind... It's performances like this that can contribute to relegation form. This would be seven defeats in seven for Garitano's men.
After a rather sticky patch following the goals, Levante turn a free kick into the box and Navarro rises highest, only to see his header fly over Jaime's goal.
This would be a big three points for Levante which would move them out of the relegation zone. Eibar have dropped off the pace of their early play in the second half, and that might come as a big surprise given the sucker-punch they've been handed here. They try to fight their way back into the game through Saul down the left, but he's forced wide and Levante settle for a corner.
LEVANTE SUBSTITUTION: Uche is brought off in place of Casadesus up top. He'll be looking to make use of the tired legs out on the pitch.
CLOSE! Levante come so near to killing the game off on the counter. Xumetra springs from his own half to slip a pass into the middle, where it is then fed into Barral who is pushing to get inside the box. Jaime comes off his line to make a challenge on the frontman who goes tumbling over. The referee decides to book Barral for a dive, and Eibar just about survive the scare.
Around five minutes left to play here and Levante almost grab another when Camarasa turns to smash a volley down low at Jaime, who does well to push the ball away from danger. The home side are getting closer and closer. Can Eibar grab something from this?
Eibar enjoy some possession in the middle with Lara, and he tries to feed in his forward men. A lack of movement sees him try to feed the ball wide, where Tono is there to intercept and win the ball back for Levante.
RED CARD! Dani Garcia shows his frustration and is given a second yellow for a rash challenge in the centre of the pitch. That could spell game over for the visitors.
Four minutes of additional time in Valencia...
SUBSTITUTION: Levante look to take more time out of the game as Camarasa is replaced by Mari.
Two minutes to play as Eibar lump the ball desperately forward. As expected, it comes straight back at them as Casadesus seeks to hold up the ball in the box. He's eventually tackled but he's wasted a fair bit of time with that.
Tense finish now as Saul and Lara combine well down in the right corner to win a corner.
Simao makes a vital interception with his head from the corner and the referee blows for full time.
FULL TIME: LEVANTE 2-1 EIBAR
So Levante come from behind to claim a 2-1 victory that lifts them out of the relegation zone for now. As for Eibar, some terrible defending at vital moments in the game has condemned them to seven straight defeats in La Liga. They're going to find this half of the season difficult now.