|Rayo Vallecano (1)||Valencia (1)|
|Sergi Guardiola 83′||Carlos Soler 57′|
As Rayo Vallecano’s striker Randy Nteka bore down on Valencia’s goal in the 96th minute, Giorgi Mamardashvili had to be brave. Paying little heed to his own safety, the giant Georgian charged forward and flung himself at Nteka’s feet, colliding with the Frenchman that left him clutching his shoulder in pain.
More than just denying Nteka a certain goal, the goalkeeper’s sore shoulder also ensured that his side’s unbeaten run stretched to six. But this display would have raised more questions about Jose Bordalas’ side as they were once again held to yet another draw, this time by a dogged Rayo Vallecano side.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the heroics of Mamardashvili, this could have easily ended up in defeat for Los Che. Our watertight defence has now been breached for the first time in 4 matches. And as the Copa Del Rey final looms, Bordalas will need his team to hit peak form soon. Real Betis will not be as forgiving as our opponents tonight.
Trips to Madrid have been miserable for Valencia in recent years, having not won in their last 14 visits to teams in the Spanish capital – an unwanted run that stretches back to 2018.
But there was a quiet confidence that they could come away with a victory this time. After all, Rayo were on an 11-match winless streak, and missing one of their most potent attacking threats in striking legend Radamel Falcao.
Instead, it was the visitors that were the more ineffectual side, as they struggled to create any attacking momentum. It took 25 minutes for Valencia to register their first shot on goal – Goncalo Guedes’ rasping shot was more ambition than certainty, one that was easily smothered by Rayo’s goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
Just a minute later at the other end, Mamardashvili had to be sharp to deny Rayo’s Isi Palazon with a fine one-handed save. More would come from the Georgian.
In an attempt to invigorate his shot-shy side, Bordalas rang the changes at half-time. On came Marcos Andre and Dimitri Foulquier for the anonymous Ilaix Moriba and Hugo Duro to provide more width on the wings.
True enough, our goal came from the flanks near the hour mark. Receiving the ball on the right wing, Goncalo Guedes spotted Carlos Soler’s surging run into the box and duly fed the No.10, whose deflected shot into the net sent Bordalas into a fist-shaking delirium.
The wind was in their wings, but the Bats failed to kill off the game. Instead, it seemed like the goal had awakened Rayo, who began to lay siege on the visitors. Palazon once again threatened with a left-footed curler, only to be denied once again by the magnificent Mamardashvili.
But the Rayo No.7 was determined to be the scourge of Valencia, with his defence-splitting pass finding Sergi Guardiola 10 minutes later. This time, there was little Mamardashvili could do – though he would deny Nteka at the death.
Valencia may have secured a precious point, but Bordalas will be fully aware that more work needs to be done on the training ground. The team may be on an unbeaten streak, but displays like this will threaten to end it. And it certainly won’t lead them to raising a trophy on 23 April.