Valencia move top with late winner
A late Kevin Gameiro penalty saw Valencia move top of La Liga, following a hard fought 2-1 victory in an end to end clash with Granada at the Mestalla. The visitors came into this one on the back of 3 draws and 2 wins which in their last five games, form which saw them currently 5th in the form table and sitting 8th in the league. Unsurprisingly, Valencia named an unchanged side from their victory over Huesca, with Denis Cheryshev being passed fit to start despite suffering an injury during the international break. There were a few changes on the bench, however, with Thierry Correia, Yunus Musah and Álex Blanco all coming in, while Jaume Doménech was fit again to return as back-up keeper.
Granada looked to carry their impressive recent form into the game, almost taking an early lead when they went close 11 minutes in. Fede Vico fed the ball forward for Antonio Puertas, and his effort hit the outside of the post before going wide. 2 minutes later Valencia were awarded a free kick wide left after Maxi Gómez was brought down. Daniel Wass swung the ball into the penalty box, met by Uros Racic with a glancing header just wide. Another Wass free kick after 20 minutes again caused problems, Granada half clearing and Diakhaby clipping the ball back in, where Maxi Gómez should have done better with his free header, failing to trouble the keeper as he headed over the bar.
Minutes later Kevin Gameiro was next to test Granada keeper Rui Silva. Gonçalo Guedes won the ball before driving forward on the right. After originally losing the ball, the Portuguese winger got a second chance, and his cross found Gameiro, who shot across goal but Rui Silva tipped wide, before claiming the resulting corner with ease. At the other end, Luis Suárez went close after a long ball over the top found the Colombian striker in space, his shot dragged just wide. 5 minutes before the break, Suárez broke again but this time Jasper Cillessen made a good save to deny the striker.
After the break, Valencia made several changes, firstly Cheryshev, still returning to full fitness, being replaced by Emile Smith Rowe, before just after the hour mark José Gayà and Uros Racic also made way, Thierry Correia and Yunus Musah coming on. Substitute Musah almost made an immediate impact, winning the ball in the middle before picking out Wass out wide, the full back delivering another great cross which Maxi Gómez headed just over, before Luis Suárez flashed a shot wide at the other end as both sides continued to push for the breakthrough.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 73rd minute, Gonçalo Guedes making a mazy run down the right before being halted by Fede Vico. Wass picked up the loose ball, drilling a low cross into the box, where Kevin Gameiro reacted first at the near post to fire home from close range to give the hosts a late lead.
Just 6 minutes later both sides were level as Granada grabbed the equaliser through the largely impressive Luis Suárez. The hosts lost the ball in midfield, and Fede Vico took advantage, slipping through Luis Suárez who finished with aplomb under the onrushing Cillessen. The visitors then thought they’d snatched the lead, Luis Milla this time picking out Suárez, but the linesman quick to put up his flag, VAR confirming the Colombian had strayed just offside before providing the finish.
With both sides once again searching a winner, Valencia were next to go close again, Guedes again looking lively on the right, and while Maxi Gómez saw his shot blocked, substitute Smith Rowe was onto the loose ball, his effort hitting the woodwork before spinning wide. With the referee indicating 5 minutes additional time, Valencia were then handed the opportunity to snatch all 3 points deep into stoppage time. An inswinging corner was half cleared by Granada, but with Valencia centre half Gabriel Paulista indicating he had been pushed, a subsequent VAR check saw the penalty awarded. With just 2 minutes to go, Kevin Gameiro confidently stepped up to fire home his second of the game, firing low and hard to into the bottom right hand corner despite the keeper guessing the right way.
There was still time for even more late drama, and Granada thought they had once again pulled themselves level and snatched a point, but Luis Suárez was once again denied by the offside flag, although this one was far more clear cut than the earlier goal he saw chalked off, as Valencia clung on for a massive 3 points which sees them take top spot after Barcelona stuttered earlier in the weekend. The double strike from Gameiro also sees him move back above Lionel Messi in the race for the golden boot, the former PSG striker now on 8 for the season.Share this: