|Valencia (2)||Celta Vigo (0)|
|Manu Vallejo 90+4′|
Kevin Gameiro 90+8′
Shaking his fists wildly and roaring with passion, Manu Vallejo’s celebration said it all. Emotions reached a fever pitch at Mestalla as the Spaniard latched onto a smart Lee Kang In pass to slot home in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
It was a catharsis for Valencia, who played against a 10-man Celta Vigo in the closing 30 minutes but had failed to make inroads. Vallejo’s fellow substitute Kevin Gameiro secured the tie three minutes later to hand us a 2-0 win.
The frantic finale was a marked contrast to a cagey opening period. Kang In, who was at his metronomic best, pirouetted and sliced apart the defence on multiple occasions, but Los Che failed to capitalise. Daniel Wass also had a goal chalked off for offside.
The visitors, shorn of their talismanic forward Iago Aspas, could not find a way past Jasper Cillessen, who was making his maiden appearance this season following a lengthy injury layoff. Apart from a few nervy moments, the Netherlands stopper played his part with some brave goalkeeping – particularly to deny Los Celestes’ captain Hugo Mallo at point blank.
Things took a turn on the hour as Maxi Gomez was caught on the ankle by opposing keeper Ruben Blanco outside the box after another magnificent Kang In pass had sent the Uruguayan through on goal. It seemed a clear red to fans watching, as well as to the Valencia players. The referee, however, took his time and inspected the VAR monitor before giving Blanco his marching orders.
Sensing blood, Javi Gracia sent on strikers Gameiro and Vallejo to kill the game. It was an arduous wait as Celta were content to defend till the death, but our super subs had other ideas.
With less than three minutes to go, Kang In once again showed his acumen by threading a pass to bypass three defenders. Vallejo hit it poorly, but saw the ball trickle across the line. That was his fourth goal scored as a substitute – the most in LaLiga this season.
Gameiro then fired into the net after Thierry Correia had set it on a plate after a jinking run to beat two opponents.
“We needed to bounce back,” said Vallejo. “The game was going well for us, and we were able to push to the end and we won so that’s the important thing.”
A first win in 3 games sees Valencia move up a spot to 12th. The top half is in sight. A second straight win next weekend against Getafe and our season will look a little brighter.