Winning start in five goal thriller
New Valencia boss Sie Barlow enjoyed a dream start in his new role, as he saw his side start their La Liga campaign on a high with a hard fought 3-2 win away to Real Betis. Valencia travelled to the Estadio Benito Villamarín after enjoying a perfect pre-season, with 3 wins from 3, hoping to carry that form into the season proper as they faced a Real Betis side who beat them 2-1 in the corresponding fixture back in November last year, Joaquín and Sergio Canales doing the damage despite Valencia having taken the lead through Maxi Gómez. All three would feature again, Joaquin on the bench, as Barlow made eight changes from the final pre-season game, that victory against Espanyol, as he was able to welcome back several of his international stars. Back in came Jasper Cillessen and Maxi Gómez, while perhaps more surprisingly Denis Cheryshev, Uros Racic and Eliaquim Mangala were also handed starts. Less surprisingly, in form Kevin Gameiro returned to lead the line. All three season long loanees were handed a place on the bench, with youngsters Álex Blanco and Yunus Musah also included. The hosts included new signing Kwadwo Asamoah, who had been on loan with Valencia prior to signing with the Sevillian side.
The visitors got off the a dream start under their new coach when they took the lead with just 5 minutes gone on the clock. Gabriel Paulista, playing in the alternate position of full back as a pose to his usual centre half berth, broke down the right, switching play with Carlos Soler before a neat one-two found Guedes in the area. He took a touch and fired across goal and there was French striker Kevin Gameiro on hand to poke home beyond a hapless Joel.
11 minutes later things got even better for the away side as they doubled their lead with a fabulous goal. Gabriel was again the architect down the right, and when Fekir only half-cleared William’s pass was superbly intercepted by Guedes, who picked out Carlos Soler. From there it was all about the brilliance of the midfield man, who knocked the ball forward before unleashing an unstoppable strike from range, giving Joel no chance.
Real Betis keeper Joel then did superbly well to stop his side from falling even further behind, a flick on from Denis Cheryshev almost poked home again by Gameiro, but for a wonderful piece of goalkeeping. Real Betis then managed to strike back, pulling themselves one back in the 27th minute. An inswinging free-kick from Nabil Fekir was knocked forward by Sidnei, and Marc Bartra was in the right place to divert a shot beyond Cillessen to give the hosts hope. Valencia pushed on, looking to regain a 2 goal advantage, Mangala going close with a powerful header from a Gaya corner. Betis then almost snatched an equaliser just before the break, first Borja Iglesias beating the last man only to be denied by Cillessen, then Fekir having his long distance strike also tipped over by the Valencia keeper.
The second half was a similar end to end affair, Valencia eventually bringing on fresh legs in the shape of Lato and Jason just after the hour mark in an attempt to regain control of the game. Several minutes later, the move paid off as they scored a third. A long clearance from Mangala at the back found Maxi Gómez down the left, and his searching run and pin point cross picked out Kevin Gameiro in the middle, who made no mistake in claiming his second of the game.
Valencia then made several more changes as players began to tire due to the fast pace of the game, Musah and Valencia coming on, but it was the hosts who struck next, a poor clearance from substitute Valencia falling to Rodriguez, who slipped in Nabil Fekir, the midfielder doing superbly well to spring the offside trap and slip his effort beyond the onrushing Cillessen.
Valencia threw on Emile Smith-Rowe for his debut with around 10 minutes to go, and it almost proved a masterstroke as Valencia thought they had sealed the win with a fourth in the 88th minute. The Arsenal loanee did superbly well to find space with his back to the box before slipping in Maxi Gómez who swiveled to fire home, only to see his effort chalked off by the intervention of VAR, although replays show it was a fractional decision at best.
Thankfully for the visitors, they were able to see out the game without ruing the disallowed goal, Mangala again going close in stoppage time, to ensure they started the season with a positive result and three valuable points from their trip to Seville. The only other game of the evening saw Atletico Madrid run out comfortable 3-0 winners at home to Elche, Luis Suarez grabbing 2 goals while Carrasco was also on target. Valencia now have over a week to prepare for their next clash, as they host Valladolid at the Mestalla next Sunday.Share this: