|Valencia (0)||Atletico Madrid (1)|
|Toni Lato 79′(OG) |
This was the night when Valencia had wanted to prove their mettle, to fire the excitement of what looks to be an unpredictable but promising season ahead, with so many of its young guns stepping up.
A win or a draw against an in-form Atletico Madrid team would have done it but, after an impressive first-half performance with an improved second period, they switched off at the end to slip to a shock 0-1 loss.
Unbelievably, Toni Lato’s own goal in the 79th minute would be the only difference between both the high-pressing sides.
With Yannick Carrasco crossing in low from the left of the penalty box, the ball would surge past an outstretched Jaume Domenech, go through the legs of both Victor Perez and Ellaquim Mangala before hitting Lato’s right shin to end up at the back of the Los Che’s goal.
And for all the waste and ruin, there remains so much to like about this team.
For the most part, Javi Gracia’s men kept to their game plan of maintaining a tight 4-4-2, playing the ball out from the back as the red shirts swarmed in pre-drilled formation. Gabriel Paulista and Hugo Guillamon serving as the defensive pivots against Atletico’s strangulation-style football.
Carlos Soler has been a lynchpin in midfield for the hosts. There is something thrilling of the sight of the 23-year-old moving in concert with Yunus Musah and Uroš Račić. More. More of this.
But making chances are not enough, the Los Che would have to start taking them too. And with 16th-placed Eibar up next Tuesday, there’s no better place to start.