Guedes returns in another tight victory
Valencia registered their second successive 1-0 victory on the road, this time as they faced mid table Granada, as they secured another valuable 3 points in their challenge for the title. The league leaders, currently 8 points clear, were once again forced into changes for this game, with Kevin Gameiro suffering a long term hip injury last time out, so Barlow opting to had Gonçalo Guedes, his first start since his own injury problems, a role up front alongside Maxi Gómez. Also returning was goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, the usual first choice back to full fitness after illness, while understudy Jaume Doménech, who had done reasonably well in his absence, was fit enough to take the bench after a recent bout of flu. Also back was Diakhaby after his recent suspension, while skipper José Gayà also returned after his recent rest.
The opening quarter of an hour saw few chances of note, the only highlight being both sides picking up a booking. However, just inside 20 minutes the visitors made a breakthrough, a move starting with a free-kick from Antonio Valencia just inside the Granada half. Valencia picked out Musah, and after a series of passes the ball was worked out to skipper José Gayà down the left hand side. The full back did superbly well to beat both Antonio Puertas and Víctor Díaz, finding himself the time and space to pick out Nicolás De La Cruz in the box. The winger, who had himself lost his marker Nehuén Pérez, took a touch before firing low and hard into the bottom corner beyond the outstretched reach of Rui Silva in the Granada goal, a fine finish for his 3rd goal since his arrival back in January.
Valencia continued to press and almost doubled their advantage inside the half hour, but for some fine goalkeeping by Rui Silva. The hosts were pegged inside their own half from a throw-in on the right, Antonio Valencia nicking the ball back and working it out to goal scorer De La Cruz on the left with the assistance of Wass in the middle. The winger made a driving run forward down the left hand side, eventually knocking back for Gayà who was providing support on the overlap, this time the skipper picking out Wass on the edge of the box in an almost repeat pass of the first goal. The Danish utility man hit one high towards the corner, but Rui Silva did superbly well to get up and push the effort away, before Dimitri Foulquier then cleared the danger.
The hosts had the keeper to thank again 7 minutes into the second half as he once again denied Valencia a second goal. Right midfielder Jason picked up the ball 30 yards out on the right, opting to use fellow winger De La Cruz, this time the left winger opting for a clever flicked header into the path of Maxi Gómez, who held the ball up inside the area before feeding it out to Gayà, who was again in space on the left hand side. The Valencia captain this time opted to go himself, outpacing Víctor Díaz before firing one across goal, which Rui Silva did superbly well to get down and hold.
At the death, with Granada still searching for an equaliser, Valencia almost delivered another perfect counter punch, but for some more last ditch defending. A throw-in from Víctor Díaz this time was initially cleared by Antonio Valencia, before pressure on Herrera allowed substitute Denis Cheryshev in to take the ball off the feet of Luis Milla. Fellow substitute Uros Racic then sprung Maxi Gómez free down the left hand side, the striker doing well to turn Nehuén Pérez and bare down on goal. With Rui Silva rushing out, the Uruguayan opted for an audacious chip, which was goal bound but for a superb piece of defending by Domingos Duarte, who refused to give up the chase back and was able to head clear off the line. It proved to be the last chance of note as Jason opted to hold the ball in the corner to help the visitors hold on for another valuable win in their quest for success.Share this: