Valencia draw blank as held for second successive game
Table topping Valencia were once again left frustrated on Saturday lunchtime as they dropped another 2 valuable points in a stalemate against Valladolid. The league leaders travelled the game after being held 1-1 away at Villarreal in the week, and it was a similar story again at the Nuevo José Zorrilla where a lack of clinical finishing saw Valencia once again slip up. With fatigue beginning to cause an issue, Barlow was again forced into changes, Wass and Zirkzee coming in for Maxi Gómez and Gabriel Paulista, who was suspended. José Gayà was still not passed fit after his recent ankle injury, while long term absentee Kevin Gameiro also remains sidelined. or their part, the hosts were without former Celtic and Notts Forest full back Saidy Janko, out with a broken leg, and Raul Garcia, who had a pulled groin.
There was little to separate the 2 in the opening exchanges, the only difference being Valencia managing a shot on target while the hosts were wide of the mark. The first real opportunity to speak of came 7 minutes before the break, and it was for the visitors. A throw in on the right hand side was met by Joshua Zirkzee, who flicked the ball into the area, and when Joaquín only half cleared Yunus Musah picked up the loose ball, 25 yards out and central to goal. The young midfielder drove forward before unleashing an effort which flew just over the bar. In the end it was the last chance of a half where Valencia had the better of the shots, 6 in total but just 2 on target in a frustrating opening 45 minutes.
Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was made to work just before the hour mark, after a long clearance from his counterpart Jordi Masip was missed by Mangala, Guardiola feeding the ball wide for Jota who tried his luck from an acute angle, but failing to trouble the former Barcelona shot stopper. 2 minutes later it was almost repeat affair, this time Roque Mesa pulling the strings in the middle from a Masip punt, chipping wide to Jota who this time spotted Cillessen slightly advanced and tried a lobbed effort, the keeper alert to the danger though to pluck the ball from the air.
It was then the turn of the visitors, who began to turn the screw, forcing the home team to defend with vigour. The first opportunity came via a Wass free-kick, worked through the defence before Jason then Musah switched play to De La Cruz on the other wing. The Uruguayan played a neat through ball into the path of Gonçalo Guedes, who looked lively in the area, but a combination of both Masip and El Yamiq were able to smothered the effort before an attempted cross from Guedes was then cleared by Bruno.
A throw in from Wass was then carried down the right by Zirkzee, the youngster getting to the byeline before whipping one in for Musah, arriving into the area from midfield. The USA international met the cross first time on the volley but his effort cannoned back off Mesa. The ball was fired back in from range by Thierry, this time Zirkzee up inside the box to flick on for fellow strike partner Guedes, but Masip rushed out to punch the ball clear. The ball was then picked up by De La Cruz, and a combination of the midfield trio eventually found Guedes on the edge of the box, his first time effort beating Masip but also the post as Valencia did everything but score.
4 minutes later they went close again, a Thierry Correia throw to Guedes being flicked on for Emile Smith Rowe, the substitute midfielder being allowed to run with the ball, an opportunity he took before firing an effort into the grateful hands of Masip. 2 minutes before the end of normal time it was the same combination again, this time Jason picking up the ball from Smith Rowe eventually and sending through Zirkzee in a wonderful position, but the young striker, on loan from Bayern, failed to get enough on his effort allowing Masip to touch the effort around the post as the hosts held on for a point. With Real Madrid not in action until the following day, it was another wasted opportunity for the league leaders to put down a marker and pull further ahead of the current holders as the title race hots up. With fatigue still a major factor, things aren’t set to get any easier for the current leaders, with Barcelona up next then the Copa Del Rey final a few days after, the only saving grace being that Madrid will also have to feature in that game.Share this: