Parejo belter helps Villarreal go top

Dani Parejo (left) clasps his hands after scoring for Villarreal against his old club Valencia.
Dani Parejo (left) clasps his hands after scoring for Villarreal against his old club Valencia.

Dani Parejo has hammered a spectacular goal against his former side Valencia to help Villarreal to a 2-1 east coast derby win in La Liga and send his new team top.

The Spanish midfielder, forced out of the club after nine years because of Valencia's financial struggles, netted the decisive goal in the second half.

Gabriel Paulista clumsily felled Alfonso Pedraza in the fifth minute and Paco Alcacer, another former Valencia player, fired Villarreal ahead from the penalty spot, sending Jaume Domenech the wrong way.

Valencia battled back and Goncalo Guedes crashed home an equaliser from distance in the 37th minute.

Parejo put Villarreal back in the lead with another spectacular effort from the edge of the area after Takefusa Kubo's neat backheel.

Former Valencia captain Parejo gave a tearful goodbye press conference when he left, saying he had wanted to stay but was told to leave, and instead of a goal celebration he put his hands together to ask for forgiveness.

Kubo, on loan from Real Madrid, was sent off in stoppage-time for a second yellow card, but his team held on for the victory, moving top of La Liga with 11 points from six games. Valencia are 12th.

"Today I scored one of the strangest goals of my career because it combined the maximum happiness I have of netting for Villarreal and the pain for doing it against Valencia," said Parejo in an Instagram post.

"If only a few months ago someone told me I would have scored against Valencia, I wouldn't have believed it.

"However, football has brought me here and today I cannot be more satisfied for having helped my team take three hugely important points."

Earlier Athletic Bilbao bounced back from two defeats to secure a 2-0 win over Levante.

Alejandro Berenguer broke the deadlock in the 68th minute after he stayed fractionally onside and striker Inaki Williams notched the second from close range.

The victory lifts Bilbao to 13th, while Levante sink to 20th after Real Valladolid's 2-2 draw at Huesca.

Valladolid are 19th, a point behind Alaves, 18th, who tumbled 2-0 at home against Elche.

Elsewhere Eibar drew 0-0 with visitors Osasuna in a mid-table scrap at Ipurua, where they have failed to win in four attempts this season.

Australian Associated Press