Valencia take top spot in thriller at Wanda
Valencia find themselves as unlikely league leaders after securing a point in a thrilling 2-2 draw in the capital against Atlético Madrid. The visitors came into this one in fine form with 2 wins from 2, and sat just ahead of Atlético, who had won one and drawn one, in the league. Valencia were boosted by the fact José Gayà was passed fit to play, despite suffering an injury last match, while Toni Lato was also fit enough to take a place on the bench. Barlow made just one change in the starting XI, Denis Cheryshev coming back in on the left with Gonçalo Guedes switching to the right, Jason making way. There was also a return to the bench for Daniel Wass, looking to regain fitness after his injury pre-season.
Valencia, who had scored early on in both games so far this season, were once again handed the perfect opportunity to do so inside 5 minutes after being awarded an early penalty. Felipe crashed into Maxi Gómez just inside the box, and after a VAR review referee Alberola Rojas pointed to the spot. Valencia top scorer Kevin Gameiro stepped up to fire beyond Oblak, for his fifth goal of the season, against his former club to give the visitors a dream start.
Unsurprisingly the early goal sprung the hosts into life, Luis Suárez picking out João Félix with 10 minutes gone, but the young Portuguese star put his effort safely in the reach of Cillessen. Valencia continued to look for opportunities on the counter, goalscorer Gameiro doing well to pick out the run of Maxi Gómez, but Jan Oblak doing even better to rush out and deny the opportunity. Just after the half hour mark Valencia were dealt a blow when they lost Portuguese winger Guedes, with what looked like a thigh injury, Korean star Lee Kang-In coming on in his place. 10 minutes before the break hosts Atlético hauled themselves level with a wonderful goal. A free kick from just inside the visitors half was eventually fed forward from Marcos Llorente to Luis Suárez, and the Uruguayan striker produced an unstoppable finish from outside the box to make it 1-1.
Valencia tried their own luck from range just before the break, Carlos Soler firing one in from distance but Oblak was alert to the danger, tipping over before the hosts dealt with the resulting corner with ease. Into the second half, Atlético looked to press in search of a lead, Koke playing through goalscorer Luis Suárez, but this time his shot was high over the bar, much to the relief of Cillessen. With 73 minutes gone, Barlow threw on Emile Smith-Rowe and Joshua Zirkzee, for his debut, in what turned out to be an inspired double substitution, Cheryshev and Maxi Gómez the players making way. With just 10 minutes remaining the substitutes made a perfect impact, combining at the end of a fantastic team move to give the visitors the lead. Playing out from the back, Cillessen rolled the ball to Antonio Valencia, who in turn played a searching ball forward to find Gameiro just inside the opposition half. He controlled well before sending Smith-Rowe free down the left. The Arsenal loanee looked up and slipped in fellow loan signing Joshua Zirkzee, who showed supreme confidence with a lofted finish over Oblak to score his first goal for the club and put the away side back in front.
Atlético began to pile on the pressure in search of an equalizer, Luis Suárez once again beating the back line but his shot was too close to Jasper Cillessen, who was able to tip wide. Minutes later Atléti sub Vitolo then went close, breaking down the right before dragging his shot just wide. Into injury time, Cillessen was again called into action to tip over a fine header from Felipe. Lemar again provided another super delivery, but this time Luis Suárez was unable to keep his header down. Just as it looked like Valencia may take all three points, Atléti were gifted a leveller. Poor play from Carlos Soler in the middle gave the ball straight to Thomas Lemar, and the former Monaco man, who was having a fine game for the hosts, looped a first time pass into the path of wonderkid João Félix, who made no mistake firing across Cillessen to rescue a point for his side. The draw sees Valencia find themselves as surprise leaders of La Liga with just 3 games gone.Share this: