|Valencia (2)||Real Valladolid (1)|
|Maxi Gomez 30′ |
Lee Kang-In 89′
|Victor Garcia 47′|
On a nerve-wracking evening at the Mestalla, Valencia dug deep to eke out a first win in five games, a performance powered by high-pressing football and creative flair in the final third.
We waited a long time for this home win, and it finally came. This was as much Voro-ball as it was a team easing back into a comfortable old pair of shoes.
Lee Kang-in’s 30-yard screamer in the 89th minute might have won the game for us but it was the result of a dogged determination to chase down opponents and keep possession of the ball.
Voro’s looming presence is working, for now. The cast is the same but the play was markedly different. Geoffrey Kondogbia rediscovered how to obstruct play in central midfield alongside Dani Parejo, who also pulled strings from the centre. The tireless Kevin Gameiro made his first LaLiga start — a reward for his scintillating display against Granada three days ago.
Valencia were shark-like throughout the 90 minutes, ripping into Real Valladolid’s left and right flanks. Carlos Soler stood out again on the right, weaving passes and through balls across Sergio Gonzalez’s tightly-packed 4-2-3-1 formation. But Goncalo Guedes was the difference between the two teams, prowling the midfield and snapping after the ball down the left side of the field.
The opening goal arrived just before the half-hour mark. A routine throw-in for Martinez Garcia near the right flank turned into a nightmare for Real Valladolid when Guedes intercepted the ball to thread a through pass to Kevin Gameiro in the penalty box. The 33-year-old Frenchman pulled the ball back into the box to find an unmarked Maxi Gomez who slid the ball into the lower-right corner for his 10th goal of the season.
Post-pandemic football has been fraught with oddities and new protocols. But one thing is constant: our defence frailties. We should have kept a clean sheet but instead, we conceded a weak goal 2 minutes into the 2nd half. An unmarked Victor Garcia had all the time in the world to turn and slot one into the net despite having 3 Valencia defenders surrounding him. There is no excuse, Jaume Domenech should be saving shots like these.
The victory puts us one point away from Real Sociedad who currently occupy 7th spot. With only 3 more matches to go, we could yet make something of this wretched season by at least qualifying for the Europa League. But only if we have more of this.