|Valencia (3)||Granada (1)|
|Goncalo Guedes 48′|
Maxi Gomez 51′
Carlos Soler 62′ (P)
|Jaume Domenech 56′ (OG)|
In 3 minutes and 2 swings of Carlos Soler’s right peg, our match against Granada went from finely-poised to advantage Valencia, as Goncalo Guedes and Maxi Gomez headed home to make it a quickfire double in the 2nd half.
A goal from the Andulasians threatened a comeback, but super Soler struck again for a 3-1 cushion, stroking home a penalty – his 15th conversion for the club.
Until the Soler intervention, Granada were proving more than a match for the home side despite both history and form being stacked against them. They travelled to the Mestalla – where they had never won before – in 17th, just 4 points from the relegation zone and winless in 8.
Valencia, as you might have known, were riding high following their Copa exploits. Yet the midweek exertions saw a much-changed Los Che team. The makeshift defence saw further changes early on when a stricken Toni Lato came off for young Jesus Vazquez.
Granada sensed blood, forging several chances down Valencia’s left, but none of their efforts seriously tested Jaume Domenech. The visitors had most of the chances by the break, but the Bats flew out the blocks in the 2nd period.
Who else but Copa hero Guedes to break the deadlock, as he ran unmarked to nod in Soler’s whipped freekick. Just as the goal was still on replay, Gomez won a foul near the corner flag, and it was Soler again who drilled in the set-piece. Gomez finished what he started for his 3rd LaLiga goal this season and his 1st since early December.
The Uruguayan striker played a crucial role in the 3rd too, winning a penalty as Raul Torrente inadvertently kicked him while going for a clearance.
Valencia would have been disappointed that they failed to keep a clean sheet. Eray Comert was outsmarted and outpaced in the lead-up to the own goal. Let’s hope he adjusts quickly to the league come the business end of the season.
Still, it’s job done and it’s crucial we continue the upturn from our Copa bounce. A top-half finish and a trophy this season would surely represent progress over last season’s dismal 13th.