|Valencia (1)||Real Madrid (2)|
|Hugo Duro 66′||Vinicius Junior 86′|
Karim Benzema 88′
The pain was evident throughout a muted Mestalla as Hugo Guillamon and Gabriel Paulista sank to their knees upon the final whistle. This first loss of the season was just too cruel for Valencia. Just 4 minutes away from the cusp of victory, the home side were undone by a 1-2 Real Madrid sucker punch in the dying moments of a thrilling match in which Los Che was the better team all night.
But Jose Bordalas’ men should be proud of themselves. His half-strength side – missing captain Jose Gaya and having lost both Thierry Correia and the talismanic Carlos Soler to injury early on in the game – showed impressive resolve that nearly saw them bagging all three points.
In the pre-match conference, the Valencia coach had said his side would show no fear against the mighty Madrid in the highly anticipated top-of-the-table clash. He guaranteed that the team was going to give everything against Carlo Ancelotti’s men, and they did.
Real Madrid never really got going at the Mestalla. From the start, the Bats swarmed forward as waves of white shirts kept the visitors pinned back. Yunus Musah, who had replaced the injured Soler in the 12th minute, was Los Che’s main driving force, giving Nacho Fernandez plenty of grief with his hard running and dancing feet. Thibaut Courtois was the busier of the two keepers as Goncalo Guedes and Hugo Duro tested the Belgian with stinging shots.
There were no goals at the break, but plenty of hope that Valencia would be able to make their dominance count. The breakthrough finally came in the 65th minute when Duro met Dimitri Foulquier’s in-swinger with a sweet half-volley that sent the Mestalla into raptures. Valencia fans were in heaven. As things stood, the club was atop of LaLiga.
Goal secured, Bordalas’ men dropped back to defend their lead. But it’s always a danger to sit back against Los Blancos, especially with Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior in such imperious form. True enough, both Madrid forwards combined to great effect. First came a Vinicius curler, then a Benzema header just two minutes later that finally resulted in the first loss of the Bordalas era.
But his players should not be too disheartened with this result – they have shown the ability to mix it in LaLiga’s best. Luck just wasn’t on our side today. With a tricky visit to Sevilla in less than 96 hours, the boys must keep their heads high.