|Valencia (1)||Barcelona (4)|
|Carlos Soler 52′||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 23′, 38′, 63′|
Frenkie de Jong 32′
The season is disintegrating fast. Valencia are now almost equidistant from the European spots and the drop zone after a battering at home.
Barcelona came to town boasting an 8-game unbeaten streak in LaLiga while the Bats were aiming to end a winless run of 6 matches. That ambition got snuffed out like a candlelight by half-time as the hosts keeled over in a 1-4 defeat.
Ferran Torres was the biggest talking point ahead of the match, with the Valencia academy graduate returning to his old stomping ground to whistles at every touch. But he soon became an afterthought in the ensuing bloodbath.
Former Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring with his first Barca goal in the 23rd minute, cushioning a long ball over the defence and blasting past Giorgi Mamardashvili. Within the next 15 minutes, he had added a second from close range – both goals sandwiched a Frenkie de Jong finish.
The game was as good as over. Los Che’s defence was at sea and shambolic in every department. Half-time brought a brief respite, and perhaps some hope of a miracle. But this was not the Atletico game of last November, where the players remained plugged in for battle.
Even so, someone’s prayer was answered. The livewire Bryan Gil, so silky with the ball, put in a peach of a cross that was met by Carlos Soler’s head in the 52nd minute. The fans were roused. It turned out to be a false dawn.
Any flagging hopes of a comeback were extinguished by Aubameyang’s hattrick in the 63rd minute, deflected off his back by a Pedri piledriver. Valencia, to the players’ credit, played with more impetus in the second half but the incoherent attacks left much to be desired.
So that’s that. Two points from the last 21 available. That Copa del Rey second leg just became the most important match of this season.