Winning end to Pre-Season
Valencia ensured they finished pre-season on a high as they ended their warm up campaign with a well-fought 2-1 win away to Espanyol. With several players still away on international duty, and many having only just returned, there was little surprise when Barlow opted to field a massively changed starting XI for the clash, against the Barcelona based side who suffered relegation from La Liga last season. Among the changes of note, triallist Daniel Sturridge started up front, while former skipper Ezequiel Garay, also on trial, started at the back alongside young defender Kevin Sibille. There was plenty of youth on the bench too, as Barlow looked to have a last look at some of his squad before the season proper.
Espanyol started brightly against the La Liga side, and so there was no real shock when they eventually took the lead, although Valencia will be disappointed as the goal came directly from their corner. A poor delivery allowed the home side to directly counter, and winger Óscar Melendo did superbly to carry the ball forward before firing beyond Jaume Doménech, starting ahead of Cillessen for this one. Valencia forward Manu Vallejo had a great chance to equalize just minutes later after finding himself in space, but he fired straight at the keeper. Just 6 minutes after the break, Valencia were level, captain José Gayà breaking down the left before cutting the ball inside for Carlos Soler. The young midfielder took a touch before trying his luck from 20 yards, his shot beating the outstretched reach of Diego López before nestling in the top corner.
On the hour mark Valencia made 10 changes, only Daniel Sturridge staying on as Barlow looked to freshen things up and give a few of the fringe players an opportunity to gain some match fitness. Espanyol thought they had reclaimed the lead in the 72nd minute, as Nico Melamed swiveled and fired home, but his joy was short lived as the assistant referee flagged for offside. As the game entered the final stretch, Valencia were dealt a blow when young full-back Thierry Correia seemed to go down heavily, Mangala coming on to replace him. With a draw looking the likely outcome, Valencia were then handed a penalty in stoppage time as substitute Denis Cheryshev showed great trickery down the left before being felled in the box. Trialist Daniel Sturridge stepped up, smashing his penalty straight down the middle to hand the La Liga side a late winner.
After the game, Valencia confirmed Correia had suffered a twisted ankle, with the young Portuguese right back now set to miss between 3-6 weeks, a further blow for Los Che who are already without regular first choice Daniel Wass. The club also confirmed that left-back Kwadwo Asamoah, who had been at the club on a short term trial, had signed for fellow La Liga club Real Betis. Despite offering the Ghanaian a contract, Asamoah opted to join Betis instead, and could be set to face his old club immediately as the two square off in the opening game of the La Liga season on Friday. Former Juventus and Inter star Asamoah also turned down deals from Brighton, Braga and several other clubs along with Valencia to join the Seville club.Share this: