BARCELONA, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Valencia coach Marcelino was sent off from the dugout for dissent before watching his side earn a barely deserved 2-0 win at Espanyol to stay in touch with Barcelona ahead of next week’s showdown against the Liga leaders.
A rocket from Geoffrey Kondogbia put Valencia on their way to victory midway through the second half soon after Marcelino received his marching orders and Santi Mina sealed the victory late in the game.
Marcelino, who had opted to rest top scorer Simone Zaza and in-form winger Goncalo Guedes, saw his side survive a flurry of attempts from the hosts in both halves.
Gerard Moreno struck the post while Sergio Garcia and former Valencia man Pablo Piatti narrowly missed the target.
After his sending off, French midfielder Kondogbia broke the deadlock against the run of play with a deadly shot from the edge of the area in the 66th minute, his third goal of the season.
Santi Mina then pounced on a defensive clanger from Espanyol’s Victor Sanchez in the 82nd minute to seal a club record eighth league win in a row for Valencia, who have emerged as unlikely candidates to jostle Barcelona for the Liga title.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid fell 10 points behind the Catalans following Saturday’s goalless local derby.
Barca lead the standings on 34 points from 12 games, Valencia are second in 30, while Real are third and Atletico fourth, both on 24. Valencia host Barca next Sunday at Mestalla. (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ian Chadband)