|Valencia (2)||Alaves (1)|
|Maxi Gomez 27′|
Dani Parejo 83′
|Lucas Perez 89′|
As soon as it left his foot, Daniel Parejo knew that the ball was going in – the smile on his face told it all.
After missing a penalty during Wednesday’s Champions League reversal to Ajax Amsterdam when he blasted the ball high into the stands of the Mestalla, the club captain redeemed himself in front of home fans in emphatic fashion on Saturday.
Finesse, not power, was the option this time instead, as he floated an exquisite Panenka penalty past a completely bemused Antonio Sivera of Deportivo Alaves.
It would prove to be the match winner, sealing Valencia’s first home win under new manager Albert Celades.
“I’m very happy, because after a game in which you have missed a penalty, doubt can creep in,” said Parejo. “But I’ve always believed in myself, in my way of playing, and in my personality. We’re happy because we took an important three points.”
But his goal could prove much more than just a match winner. That cheeky clip would also have brought back some smiles on the faces of Valencia fans, some who are still upset after the sacking of Marcelino.
It wasn’t easy for Valencia. Alaves, a team that had not yet won away this season, played as one desperately eager to rectify this form, pressing relentlessly and threatening with dangerous counters. Their intensity unnerved the home side early on, with players getting caught in possession and playing loose passes.
But the jitters were momentarily calmed just before the half hour mark thanks to Maxi Gomez. Latching on to a deft one-touch pass from Rodrigo Moreno, the burly Uruguayan striker bullishly shook off pressure from defender Victor Laguardia, before finishing clinically for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Alaves refused to fold as they started the stronger in the second half, with Jasper Cillessen being forced into saves from former Arsenal man Lucas Perez and Newcastle alumnus Joselu. Perez, in particular, was a constant menace with his direct running and trickery.
Celades responded to the pressure by bringing off right winger Ferran Torres for defender Mouctar Diakhaby to shore up the defence. This added certainty at the back provided the impetus for Valencia to storm forward.
And they were duly rewarded in the 78th minute. Denis Cheryshev’s flick took out all of Alaves’ defenders and put Parejo through on goal before being clipped by Sivera. VAR was consulted, the penalty was awarded, and Parejo, shaking off any lingering doubts, duly converted.
Alaves however, never stopped threatening. Perez, who had been relentless all game, got his reward, finishing off a rebound after Cillessen had saved superbly from Joselu’s volley.
But Parejo’s penalty proved to be enough, and Valencia’s second consecutive league win would go a long way in bolstering the new manager’s standing with the fans.
The uncertainty off the pitch still remains. But as recent results go, Celades is beginning to convince that he is the right man on it.