Valencia need penalties to overcome Vigo
It was an evening in which penalties undoubtedly took centre stage as Valencia squared off against fellow La Liga side Celta Vigo in the quarter finals of the Copa Del Rey. The current holders, at home for the tie, rang in several changes from the side who won the recent Valencian derby 4-1, with Thierry Correia, Emile Smith Rowe, Uros Racic and Joshua Zirkzee being brought into the starting eleven, most noticeable skipper José Gayà and Maxi Gómez making way.
Valencia were the most positive side in the first half, although with Vigo excellently marshalling their defence, the hosts were mainly reduced to efforts from distance. The first came 17 minutes in, after Rubén Blanco cleared a De La Cruz corner. The ball was worked through midfield via Racic, eventually finding Emile Smith Rowe on the right, the youngster cutting across the middle to create the space but firing his effort high and wide. 11 minutes later Valencia went close from range again, this time a Correia throw knocked down by De La Cruz to Zirkzee, who cut inside the fullback before teeing up Carlos Soler, the stand in skipper for the evening taking a touch before firing an effort just over with Rubén Blanco stretching. The closest opportunity of the first half came just before the break, a direct free kick from Nicolás De La Cruz heading for the top corner before a wonderful fingertip save by the impressive Rubén Blanco to push the shot away.
5 minutes after the break Zirkzee took a knock so the hosts were forced to throw on Maxi Gómez for the rest of the tie. Just 4 minutes after that they found themselves falling behind, against the run of play it has to be said. A loose ball in the middle was knocked on for Iago Aspas who played a superb ball over the top into the path of Santi Mina, the former Valencia striker making no mistake to slot under Cillessen to punish his old club. Valencia needed just 2 minutes to pull themselves level, albeit from the spot. An indirect free kick just outside the box was worked between Soler, Racic and Gameiro, and when Carlos Soler was slipped in on the right, full-back Lucas Olaza was way to forceful in his challenge as he steamed into the midfielder, picking up a booking in the process. Up stepped top goalscorer Kevin Gameiro, who fired into the bottom left beyond Rubén Blanco, even though the keeper had guessed the right way.
Celta Vigo went close again with just 20 minutes remaining, another speculative ball over the top, this time Fran Beltran knocking to Ander Guevara whose long ball picked out Nolito, the former Manchester City striker hitting it first time on the volley, beating Cillessen but seeing his effort fire back off the inside of the post with Valencia relieved to eventually clear. If anything, despite being on top Valencia should have heeded the warning, but they found themselves once again falling behind with just 10 minutes to go. This time it was an interchange of play between the front pairing of Santi Mina and Iago Aspas, Mina eventually finding time inside the area to side foot beyond Cillessen for his second of the game, coming back to haunt his former club.
Valencia were once again handed a life line just 3 minutes later, this time Denis Cheryshev carrying the ball forward from just inside the Celta Vigo half, using substitute striker Maxi Gómez on the overlap. The 24 year old broke into the box and was brought down by Hugo Mallo, the referee once again having little choice but to point to the spot. Up stepped Kevin Gameiro again, opting to go the same way, but this time Rubén Blanco was equal to the penalty, getting down low to push away for a corner, giving his side the chance to dump out the current holders.
However, the celebration was extremely short lived when directly from the subsequent corner, a superb delivery by Daniel Wass was met by centre half Gabriel Paulista, who got up above everyone to head home, rescuing his side with just 5 minutes remaining of normal time.
With neither side able to forge an advantage during 30 minutes of extra time, it was down to the lottery of penalties to decide the outcome. Santi Mina continued his fine form slotting home the first from the spot, while Kevin Gameiro bravely opted to go the same way for a 3rd time, this time exorcising the demons of that earlier penalty miss as he had Rubén Blanco well beaten. Renato Tapia was up next, and opted for the bottom right but Cillessen got down well to make the save and hand advantage to the hosts, which was further extended when Maxi Gómez went the same way but beat the keeper. Things got worse for the visitors when former Manchester City youngster Denis Suarez dragged the 3rd penalty wide, Denis Cheryshev showing him how it should be done with an accurate finish to the bottom left. Despite the pressure and Cillessen guessing the right way, Nestor Araujo gave his side a glimmer of hope converting the fourth, but it was left to young midfielder Yunus Musah, who displayed supreme confidence to fire into the bottom left, opting for power which left Rubén Blanco with little chance to save.
Despite the drama, with 22 shots during the game (13 on target), with the visitors managing only 5, scoring with their only 2 on target, Los Che definitely deserved to qualify even if they made it more difficult than they would have liked on the night.Share this: