Valencia continue impressive start
Valencia continued their impressive start to the new season as they made it 5 matches unbeaten with a comfortable 2-0 win against Villarreal on Monday evening. Returning to action after the International break, Barlow made just 2 changes from the side who overcame Cadiz 1-0 a fortnight ago. Fit again Daniel Wass came in at right back for veteran defender Antonio Valencia, while further forward on the right hand side Gonçalo Guedes, who scored the winner for Portugal in the week, came back in, Jason making way. There was also a place on the bench for new arrival Vieirinha. Villarreal handed starts to both Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin on their return to the Mestalla, while former Valencia striker Paco Alcácer also started, having returned to la liga from the Bundesliga in the summer.
Despite finding themselves 19th in the table, the visitors began on the front foot and almost took a shock lead just 6 minutes in, a speculative ball forward finding Moi Gómez in space just inside the area. His effort beat the outstretched arm of Cillessen, but fired back off the outside of the post, much to the relief of the hosts. 7 minutes later they were made to rue the miss, as Valencia took the lead through Maxi Gómez. Uros Racic released Wass down the right, and when his cross into the area was only half-cleared, Denis Cheryshev swung the ball back in first time on the half volley, where the Uruguayan striker reacted quickest to spring the offside trap and fire home from close range, Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo having no chance.
Hungry for a second, Valencia continued to cause problems down the right as Guedes this time broke free, his shot firing into the side netting with Asenjo left scrambling. Meanwhile, goalscorer Maxi Gómez continued to get the better of the Villarreal defence, first of all firing just wide from just outside the box following an incisive pass from Racic, then heading straight into the grateful arms of Asenjo as he got up above everyone to meet a pinpoint cross from Cheryshev. Minutes later he did have the ball in the net, only to have his celebrations curtailed as VAR ruled out the effort for an initial offside in the build up. Wass looped the ball in from the right, and Maxi Gómez met the ball with power to head beyond Asenjo, but replays show the decision was right as he had dropped back from an offside position before applying the headed finish.
At the other end, the visitors offered little as they struggled to create, Alcácer trying his luck from range just after the half hour mark, but his attempt was straight at Jasper Cillessen in the Valencia goal. Asenjo continued to be the busier of the two before the break, again having to react quickest to pluck the ball out of the air as Maxi Gómez again looked to meet a speculative cross.
The second half began very much in the same vein, when with just minutes gone Asenjo again found his hands stinging, this time denying Carlos Soler from range. Valencia then went closer still, again springing the offside trap of the visitors, who were slow to react as Kevin Gameiro found himself in space, the French striker seeing his shot spring off the post and out for a goal kick when he should have perhaps done better.
Continuing to dominate the game, the returning Wass then made way for Antonio Valencia, while Kevin Gameiro, still reeling from his wasted effort, came off for young striker Joshua Zirkzee. Minutes later, Valencia made a third change, this time skipper José Gayà, who was tiring by this point, being replaced by Eliaquim Mangala. With 10 minutes of normal time still to go, Villarreal keeper Asenjo produced the save of the game, reacting well to tip over from Zirkzee at full stretch to deny the young forward what would have been a spectacular goal.
He was at it again moments later, denying the on-loan striker from the resulting corner, although this time the save was more pedestrian as the Bayern Munich youngster put it too close to the keeper. Heading into stoppage time, and with Villarreal still clinging onto the hope of snatching something, Valencia made their final changes, sending veteran Vieirinha on for his debut, while Smith Rowe also came on, Guedes and Cheryshev making way. The result was put beyond doubt in the final minute, Villarreal falling foul of a classic counter attack. Valencia picked out Uros Racic, who showed superb control to bring the ball down before sending through Maxi Gómez, who once again was first to react, racing clear to make no mistake with a finish low and hard into the bottom corner beyond the largely impressive Asenjo.
The comfortable victory, in which Valencia limited the struggling visitors to just 1 shot on target in the entire game, sees the hosts maintain second place in the league behind the impressive Barcelona. Unsurprisingly Maxi Gómez picked up the honours as he was named man of the match for his evenings work, although the former Celta Vigo man will no doubt be frustrated the VAR ruled out the opportunity for him to claim a hat-trick. Sergio Asenjo picked up the plaudits for the visitors with his performance, although ultimately without reward as the side, under Unai Emery, remain 19th in la liga with just one win so far this season.Share this: