Gameiro ruthless against former club
Veteran striker Kevin Gameiro put on a ruthless display as he grabbed a hat-trick in Valencia’s 4-0 rout of former club Sevilla on Thursday evening. Los Che came into this one unbeaten in 7 games, but without Russian winger Denis Cheryshev, another former Sevilla player, who was suspended after picking up 5 bookings, while Racic and Sturridge were also unavailable, with knee and thigh injuries respectively. Arsenal loanee Emile Smith Rowe was given the nod to replace Cheryshev, who made 4 appearances for Sevilla during the 2013-14 season, on the left hand side. They were boosted, however, with the return to the bench of Lee Kang-In as he looks to regain fitness after a hamstring injury. The 19 year old South Korean international had double reason to celebrate, after being named Asian young footballer of the Year in a recent awards ceremony just days before his return to the squad.
Valencia, who had won 3 games already this season on the road coming into this one, were once again quick out of the blocks as they looked to respond positively to the 1-1 draw against La Liga holders Real Madrid last time out, forcing a really good save from home keeper Tomas Vaclik just 3 minutes in. A throw-in from Wass on the right was knocked back by Gameiro to Yunus Musah, the impressive youngster growing into his midfield berth in the absence of Uros Racic, who switched the ball cross field to midfield partner Carlos Soler. Soler was quick to slip the ball through to Maxi Gómez, who got his shot away only to be denied by a great near post save from Vaclik. From the resulting corner, Gabriel Paulista headed over from a decent delivery from Daniel Wass.
With 12 minutes gone, the hosts had their first chance, a sublime piece of football as they looked to play out from the back, Jules Koundé heavily involved, the ball eventually being carried forward by club captain Jesús Navas on the right. The former Manchester City star produced a superb chipped delivery, with Lucas Ocampos getting up well to flash a header just over the bar with Cillessen struggling to react. The deadlock was broken just after the half hour mark, and it was the visitors who took the lead, deservedly on the balance of play. Gabriel Paulista and Musah played a one-two in the middle of the park before the centre half switched the ball out to Gonçalo Guedes on the wing. The Portuguese international cut inside before trying his luck from a tight angle, and when Tomas Vaclik could only parry his effort, there was Kevin Gameiro ready to pounce on the rebound, stroking home into the empty net to claim his 13th goal of the season.
Valencia doubled their advantage straight after the break after they were handed a penalty inside the opening minute of the second period. An inswinging corner from José Gayà caused panic in the box, and as Mouctar Diakhaby rose up to head home he was pushed in the back by Marcos Acuña. A quick VAR check confirmed the penalty, and up stepped a confident Kevin Gameiro to send Vaclik the wrong way and claim his second of the game.
Despite the two goal advantage, the visitors could spell blood and continued to press their opponents, and were rewarded just after the hour as they claimed a third, the goal coming from an initial Sevilla attack. The hosts again looked to play out from the back, but with some excellent pressing the ball was picked up by Soler, who sent Guedes down the line. He in turn found Gameiro in the box, but with no space for a shot the veteran striker, already with 2 goals to his name, was happy to return the ball wide to overlapping fullback Daniel Wass. The Danish international took a touch before playing a superb delivery into the penalty area, where young midfielder Yunus Musah was on hand to provide a fantastic first time side footed volley beyond Vaclik, the second goal of the season for the young American.
Valencia then made several changes, as Eliaquim Mangala came on for Gabriel Paulista, while Emile Smith Rowe was replaced by Álex Blanco on the left. The switch played dividends just 2 minutes later when Blanco was heavily involved in the move leading to the fourth. A Gayà throw was headed back down to the skipper by Blanco, who then picked up the ball again, moving down the wing before cutting the ball inside to Carlos Soler in the area. As the midfielder took a touch and prepared to get his shot away, he was clipped by Jesús Navas and the referee had no hesitation in pointing once again to the spot. The decision looked harsh, although a VAR review confirmed the decision, handing Valencia the chance of a fourth. Once again up stepped Kevin Gameiro, who scored over 60 goals during 3 seasons with Sevilla, to once again outfox Tomas Vaclik, going the same way, to claim his hat-trick and secure another massive 3 points for his side.
Sevilla did have a chance to secure at least some pride with 15 minutes left, again opting to start play at the back, before Rakitic in turn found Suso in the middle. Suso played a quick one-two with substitute Youssef En-Nesyri, before playing the Moroccan striker through on goal. The former Málaga front man clipped his shot beyond Cillessen, who could only get a hand to it, but Wass was on hand with some brilliant defending to head clear and prevent the goal. The win sees Valencia sit top of the league at the end of the year, having enjoyed a phenomenal resurgence under new manager Sie Barlow, and currently 8 games unbeaten in La Liga. With the transfer window set to open, and the clubs financial position still somewhat precarious following Peter Lim’s failure to find a buyer so far, the hope will be they can keep the squad together and hopefully have a real push at challenging Barcelona and current holders Real Madrid all the way in the title race, as well as hopefully securing a return to Champions League football for the club.Share this: