Valencia survive scare to take valuable point
Valencia will find themselves lucky to have taken a point as they faced a fantastic attacking display from visitors Real Sociedad on Sunday evening. Despite coming into the game as slight favourites, Valencia were largely overawed by the visitors, who came into the game in an impressive 6th position, with only the woodwork keeping them in the game at times. With tricky winger Gonçalo Guedes injured for 6 weeks, Jason was brought in on the right hand side in the only change from the side who beat Getafe 4-2 last time out.
The first real chance of note fell to the hosts with 14 minutes gone, as the league leaders were knocking on the door for their 8th straight win. A deep free kick from Daniel Wass was initially cleared by Sociedad, only for Wass to carry the ball forward again to pick out Gabriel, the centre half finding himself in space in the unusual position of wide right. His first time cross was cleared by Igor Zubeldia, but as Valencia came a third time De La Cruz picked out Maxi Gómez in the area, but a last ditch block tackle from Elustondo was enough to carry the ball into the grateful arms of Remiro.
The home side did eventually edge in front just shy of the half hour mark. Wide man De La Cruz picked up a throw-in infield, before laying off for Carlos Soler at the edge of the box. A quick return from the midfield man found Nicolás De La Cruz in space, and he took a touch before finishing inside the near post with Remiro left exposed, his first goal for his new club since arriving earlier in the month from River Plate.
3 minutes later Real Sociedad almost found themselves level, some great link up play between David Silva and Alexander Isak causing the home side all manner of problems, and when top scorer Isak broke through the middle it needed a great save from Cillessen to prevent the striker adding to his tally. Valencia tried a classic counter, releasing the ball quickly through Maxi Gómez, but former Valencia man David Silva produced an inch perfect tackle, it needed to be as he was on a yellow card, to break up the attack.
Minutes later it was a near repeat as Silva and Isak again seemed to have the run of the middle of the pitch, a succession of quick one-twos and close control eventually freeing the former Dortmund man again. This time he beat Cillessen but his effort sprung back off the inside of the post before Diakhaby was able to clear the danger.
Valencia still had chances of their own to extend the lead, notably in the 36th minute. Wass again the architect in carrying the ball forward, he in turn used Musah, the young midfielder playing a one-two with his colleague Carlos Soler in the middle. The ball was worked wide to skipper José Gayà and his first time low cross was met on the half-volley by Kevin Gameiro, but unfortunately for the home side it was straight down the throat of a grateful Remiro, who held on well.
With De La Cruz and Jason both struggling with knocks, both wingers were switched for the home side, with Denis Cheryshev and Emile Smith Rowe being brought into the action, but again it was the visitors enjoying more of the possession and chances. Just after the hour mark a Nacho Monreal free-kick was played infield to Illarramendi, who slipped in Mikel Merino at the edge of the box, the former Newcastle man hitting a shot first time which crashed off the woodwork again, this time Cillessen getting a vital touch to push the effort onto the bar. Minutes later it was the turn of Oyarzabal, who latched onto a long ball over the top, who attempted to beat Cillessen at the near post only to hit the woodwork once more, their third time in the match, although in fairness Cillessen appeared to have his angles well covered on this occasion. Real Sociedad eventually grabbed a well deserved equaliser with 6 minutes of normal time left to play, a throw in deep in their own half swung forward and Alexander Isak again found the space between the two centre halves, but this time was also able to find the finish as he fired low and hard beyond Cillessen, his 14th goal of the season, and no less than his side deserved.
While league leaders Valencia, who remain top despite dropping points, will have been disappointed to concede so late on few could argue it was the least that the adventurous Sociedad, under Imanol Alguacil, deserved, and it could indeed have been worse for the hosts but for the woodwork. Valencia must now try and recover again in the next few days before they face Zaragoza in the cup, followed by the Valencian derby at the end of the month. It was confirmed post match that both Jason and De La Cruz could be out for a week or so, which will give Barlow a selection headache following Alex Blanco’s recent loan switch to Rayo Vallecano.Share this: