|Real Sociedad (0)||Valencia (1)|
|Maxi Gomez 75′|
Just seconds before the first half ended, Real Sociedad’s Mikel Merino surged into Valencia’s half attempting to start one last attack. Maxi Gomez was having none of that as The Bull made a 30-metre charge, barged into the midfielder, and received a yellow card for his troubles.
But Javi Gracia would have been pleased – his team was finally showing the aggression and hunger he had been looking for. And as the full-time whistle blew, he would have been ecstatic as his battling side secured victory over an in-form Real Sociedad. Gomez himself would go from villain to hero by delivering the game’s only goal.
It was an astounding team effort from Los Che, who defended astutely and attacked opportunistically. All night long, our players were warriors on the pitch as they fought for every inch of grass.
After a sobering loss to Celta Vigo and the meek draw against league newcomers Huesca, Valencia were seeking redemption. Captain Jose Gaya had rallied his teammates with a motivational post on Instagram, calling on them to reverse the bad memories. And he led by example, putting in a heroic man-of-the-match display.
Gracia’s instructions to his men before the match must have been to run, run and run. And that was exactly what Valencia did, as orange shirts repeatedly swarmed the home side, countering their skill and ilk with a whole lot of graft and grit. Real Sociedad, full of confidence after their 3-0 win over Elche, simply could not play their favoured short passing game. David Silva, facing his former club for the first time in 10 years, was reduced from midfield magician to missing person.
Gracia’s decision to partner Daniel Wass with Geoffrey Kondogbia in midfield added some steel to Valencia’s soft centre, as the tenacious duo repeatedly snuffed out danger. The Bats were on the ascendency in the first half, with Sociedad’s keeper Alex Remiro tested with a couple of shots. The home side barely had a sniff.
But it was the exact opposite in the second as the home side began tightening the screw. Shots began raining down on Valencia’s goal as Jaume Domenech started getting busy.
Valencia dug in and against the run of play, had their breakthrough in the 75th minute. Wass found Gaya with a raking cross-field ball, who crossed for Gomez to bundle home. It’s now 3 goals in 4 games for the Uruguayan hitman who seems to be unstoppable this season.
As Sociedad responded, Valencia held firm. Even in the 85th minute, all eleven players were like nuclear-powered Duracell bunnies, tirelessly snapping at heels and fighting for every ball. Gaya manfully helmed his defence, incessantly barking instructions to the youthful backline of Thierry Correria, Hugo Guillamon and Mouctar Diakhaby.
After some late drama where Real Sociedad had a goal disallowed for handball, Valencia clung on for all 3 points and a sweet, sweet victory. The emotions were evident as Gaya let out a guttural roar that reverberated around the empty stadium. Gracia now knows he has a team that will not back down without a fight. This was more than a victory – it was redemption. We now have momentum.