|Valencia (3)||Real Valladolid (0)|
|Maxi Gomez 45+1′, 48′|
Thierry Correia 89′
Sunday’s thumping win against Real Valladolid provided an oasis for the parched throats of Valencia fans, and thankfully ended a 4-month goal drought for Maxi Gomez too.
Los Che had been winless in 6 games, Gomez had not scored since January and helped himself to a brace. The result at the Mestalla gives Valencia welcome breathing space, just as it seemed the team were entering a relegation dogfight.
With the 3 points, Voro Gonzalez is back in style for his 7th stint as caretaker coach. He donned a sharp suit on the sidelines too, instead of the polo tee he often wore last season.
Yet Valencia’s play was for the most part stuffy. The 5-3-2 formation saw Valencia sit deep for most of the first half, inviting waves of attack from Valladolid, who clocked 11 shots to Valencia’s 3 in the first half.
South Korean Lee Kang In was brought into the first XI for the first time since January to bring in some guile, but some of his play was instead galling as he lost the ball cheaply. One incident in Valencia’s defensive third set Valladolid attackers on an exposed Los Che rearguard.
Thankfully, Goncalo Guedes turned up – turning the Valladolid defence inside and out. His telling pass to free Jose Gaya down the left in first-half injury time saw the Spanish international drive a pinpoint low cross in to find an unmarked Gomez. The Bull made no mistake for his 6th league goal of the season. The Uruguayan careened away in ecstasy and likely relief, in the process charging down reports questioning his future at the club due to his poor form.
Los Che carried on right where they left off at the start of the 2nd half. Carlos Soler pounced on a mistake by Valladolid skipper Michel Herrero in midfield, before biding his time – as elite midfielders do – to slip in Gomez to make it 2-0. That’s 9 goals and 7 assists for Soler now, who is by far the leading light of a dreary campaign.
Right-back Thierry Correia provided the cherry atop a sweet, sweet cake with his first career league goal late in the game, as he planted a diving header into the bottom corner. Perhaps his more streamlined haircut helped!
Finally, a clinical Valencia team who have kept a clean sheet. Oh, how we have missed this.
Up next is Sevilla in mid-week, before battles against relegation candidates Eibar and Huesca. With safety virtually guaranteed, the Bats surely will be glad the team are not mired in the fight for survival. There isn’t a lot more to fight for in the final few matches, but Voro will demand that the players give fans something to cheer and sing about before the summer rolls on.