Winning start to 2021 for Los Che
Valencia continued their fine form from last year as they began 2021 with a win, albeit a narrow victory, against Osasuna at the Mestalla on Sunday evening. The pair played out a 1-1 draw the last time they met, just 2 months ago, with Maxi Gómez missing a penalty late on. The hosts were able to welcome back winger Denis Cheryshev for this one, after his one game suspension, while youngster Yunus Musah also dropped to the bench after featuring in the last few games, Daniel Wass taking up his spot in midfield, while veteran utility player Vieirinha took up the reins at right-back, with Antonio Valencia having suffered a slight knock to his ankle in the build up to this one.
As expected after their stalemate last time, it was another tight affair, with the first real chance not coming until half an hour in, the visitors breaking the back line and Jonathan Calleri testing Jasper Cillessen from close range, although in the end it wouldn’t have counted as the Osasuna striker was clearly in an offside position when the ball was slipped through by Juan Cruz. An exhausted Carlos Soler was subbed off at the break, Emile Smith Rowe being given another run out after starting the last game, as the hosts looked to press home their possessional advantage in the second period.
6 minutes into the second half, Valencia had their first chance of note, Denis Cheryshev doing really well to win the ball back in midfield before a long searching ball forward found Kevin Gameiro. The striker cut inside but saw his shot superbly blocked by a last ditch tackle from David García as he looked to break the deadlock. 2 minutes later, the hosts did take the lead, although Osasuna were left massively disappointed after the usually dependable Rubén made a mistake leading to the goal. An inswinging corner from skipper José Gayà was fumbled by the former Deportivo and Levante keeper, and former Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista, who won’t have an easier chance, was on hand to fire into the open goal for his first of the season, and only second ever Valencia goal.
Osasuna almost snatched an equaliser with 15 minutes to go, after a deep free kick from former Valencia youth player Rubén García found Jon Moncayola completely unmarked in the box. The Spanish under-21 international planted his header beyond the onrushing Cillessen only to see his effort rebound back off the inside of the post, before being scrambled to safety by substitute Antonio Valencia. It was a let off for Valencia, although on the balance of play they deserved the victory, a win which sees them remain top of the table at the start of the New Year.Share this: