|Valencia (1)||Granada (1)|
|Carlos Soler 88′ (P)||Luis Suarez 16′|
It’s the final minutes of the match. Valencia have just been awarded a game-saving penalty. Carlos Soler lives for this moment. He knows the drill. Eyes focused, he picks his spot and slams the ball beyond the keeper’s reach.
The 24-year-old wheels away in celebration after his latest rescue effort – Los Che snatched a precious point from the jaws of defeat against Granada on a muggy evening at Los Carmenes.
Both teams brought the heat as temperatures soared to 33 deg C. A series of hotly contested 50-50 challenges early on had left multiple players in a bloody pile – most notably Granada centre-back Domingos Duarte and Maxi Gomez, who both ended up with bandaged heads.
But it was a cool Colombian counterattack that opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Striker Carlos Bacca’s incisive pass to his compatriot Luis Suarez had sliced through the Bats, and the latter left Omar Alderete chasing shadows before shooting past Giorgi Mamardashvili.
To Valencia’s credit, the players continued to probe. Their relentless movement created numerous openings, but Gomez and Goncalo Guedes were guilty of misfiring the bulk of the team’s 7 shots on target. In contrast, Granada only had 2 the entire match.
The high intensity continued as the clock ticked on, and after captain Jose Gaya had been nipped by Antonio Puertas in the box 2 minutes from time, Soler’s 2nd penalty in 2 weeks appeared to have done enough.
There was still time for a last-minute scare. Former academy graduate Angel Montoro reacted fastest to a knock-on from a deep free kick to tuck the ball home in the 90th-minute, but was deemed offside as the home crowd went from jubilation to despair in seconds.
“The team tried to the end, and I congratulate the players on the draw. They put in a great effort and I think it’s a fair result,” Bordalas said after the game.