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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Espanyol was held by Valencia to 1-1 at home on Saturday, a day after the club fired its coach and sports director with two games remaining in the Spanish league.

The result was somewhat meaningless to both sides, who are destined to finish near the middle of the table and out of both the relegation battle and the berths for European competition.

Espanyol striker Raúl de Tomás equalized in first-half injury time after the opener from Maxi Gómez. De Tomás took his league tally to 17 goals.

Espanyol fired coach Vicente Moreno and sports director Francisco “Rufete” Pérez on Friday with its fans angry about the team’s poor finish to the season.

Reserve team coach Luis Blanco took over as caretaker.

“Given the strange situation we faced after the change of coach and sports director, I think the team responded well,” Espanyol midfielder David López said.

López teared up in the post-match interview when asked about his future, which is in doubt along with other veteran players such as 40-year-old goalkeeper Diego López.

“The most important thing is to give it your all,” he said after regaining his composure.

Valencia remained in 10th and Espanyol in 13th.

The match was the only game of the second-to-last round not to be played on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. local time, when several teams will try to avoid relegation.

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Hindley wins toughest Giro stage, López stays in pink

BLOCKHAUS, Italy (AP) — Australian cyclist Jai Hindley won the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia atop the fearsome Blockhaus on Sunday but Juan Pedro López managed to keep hold of the leader’s pink jersey after the race’s toughest leg.

Hindley, who rides for Bora-Hansgrohe, edged out Romain Bardet and overall favorite Richard Carapaz in a sprint to the line at the end of an arduous day of climbing.

Mikel Landa and João Almeida also finished with the same time.

But López surprisingly kept hold of the maglia rosa as the Spaniard finished the 191-kilometer (119-mile) route from Isernia 1 minute, 46 seconds behind Hindley on a day in which several favorites lost time on the iconic final climb, that had double-digit gradients along a series of hairpin bends leading to the line.

López is 12 seconds ahead of Almeida now and 14 ahead of Bardet, with Carapaz just a second further back.

As well as the Blockhaus, the route also included the top-category climb to Passo Lanciano and two other categorized ascents on a day with 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) of climbing.

A nine-man breakaway led the stage for most of the day but they were caught and the peloton started the final climb to Blockhaus together.

Simon Yates was one of the favorites dropped early on and the British rider crossed the line with his right knee heavily strapped. He had sustained the injury on the fourth stage climb up Etna.

Carapaz tried to attack several times in the final 5 kilometers but was unable to shake off his rivals for the stage win.

The race has its second rest day on Monday before a 196-kilometer stage from Pescara to Jesi that is mainly flat in the first half before three fourth-category climbs later in the day.

The Giro finishes on May 29 in Verona.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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