Valencia complete shock double as they retain cup
Valencia completed a shock cup double after a stunning 4-2 victory against Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey final yesterday evening. Los Che, who still held the cup after winning it the season before last, had already lifted the Spanish Super Cup earlier in the season following victory over Barcelona, and were once again triumphant as they overcame Spanish giants Real Madrid. Coming just days after the league clash with Barcelona, Valencia were forced to ring in the changes to freshen things up, Gameiro still out injured but Mangala, Smith Rowe, Racic, Cheryshev and Zirkzee also being brought into the starting XI. Real Madrid were without Luka Modric, Odriozola, and reserve keeper Lunin who had played in every round prior to the final.
Valencia, as is often the case with this team under the stewardship of rookie manager Sie Barlow, began on the front foot attacking from the off, Emile Smith Rowe, brought into the side on the right hand side, going close after just 6 minutes as he tried to catch the keeper Diego Altube off his line, his effort flashing into the side netting. Valencia fans didn’t have to wait much longer for the advantage, however, when they took the lead just 8 minutes later. The ball came off the back of a great attacking move from Madrid, where they completed 20+ passes before Diakhaby cleared his lines for Valencia. Joshua Zirkzee picked up the clearance, driving down the right hand side before whipping in a cross which was superbly clipped home by Gonçalo Guedes, reacting quickest in the middle.
Real Madrid almost fell further behind on the half hour mark, a last ditch block from Sergio Ramos sparing their blushes. A massive clearance from Altube was recovered by Mangala, back in the side, who found Smith Rowe on the right. Zirkzee, this time dropping deep, again carried the ball forward, beating Varane before another dangerous cross into the box was again met by Guedes, this time Ramos throwing himself between the Portuguese attacker and the effort to deny him his second of the game.
Real Madrid found themselves back in the game just 2 minutes into the 2nd half. A Di Maria corner was initially smashed clear by Musah, before Mendy and Benzema then combined to find Eden Hazard at the left hand side of the area. The former Chelsea man looked to find space, and in doing so was caught by Gabriel Paulista, the referee without hesitation pointing to the spot. Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos stepped up, and made no mistake as he fired into the bottom right hand corner, despite Cillessen guessing the right way.
Valencia were back in front just minutes later, courtesy of another classic counter attack. Another dangerous cross from Ángel Di Maria was cleared as far as Gonçalo Guedes, and the scorer of the opening goal collected the ball in the centre circle, taking the ball down the right hand side before smashing one low and hard into the corner beyond Altube, a fantastic finish from distance to put his side back in front.
3 minutes later Real Madrid must have felt a sense of de ja vu as Valencia threatened to put the game out of sight with another counter attack leading to a goal. Di Maria was again the one punished, his cross cleared again by Diakhaby to Gonçalo Guedes, this time finding himself on the left hand side once again in space. In an almost carbon copy of the goal minutes earlier, he drove forward before firing across the keeper into the corner, giving his side a 3-1 lead and in turn claiming himself a fantastic hat-trick.
Valencia went close again with 12 minutes remaining, Diakhaby heading over the bar from an inswinging corner from Nicolás De La Cruz. Minutes later, Real Madrid had the woodwork to thank as Valencia once again found too much space on the counter. This time, Zirkzee got up to flick on a Cillessen punt, and substitute winger Jason found himself with the space to run through, attempting to round Altube but his effort from an acute angle coming back off the post before being cleared by Mendy. Real Madrid then pulled one back themselves with just 3 minutes of normal time to play. Mendy again involved, this time a throw-in on the left, finding Toni Kroos who swept the ball out wide to Martin Ødegaard, who had plenty of space on the right hand side of the box. The young midfielder delivered a superb cross, picking out Isco who volleyed home from close range, replays showing his was just onside as he made it 3-2.
With 5 minutes of stoppage time, Real Madrid pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but in the end found themselves falling further behind after a rash challenge at the death handed Valencia a penalty to seal the win. An inswinger from Kroos was missed by Cillessen but cleared by Antonio Valencia, before De La Cruz then cleared again, finding Guedes again willing to take up the running with the ball. The hat-trick hero broke into the area, this time being clattered into by Éder Militão, who both conceded a penalty and also a second yellow card leading to his dismissal. Young striker Joshua Zirkzee, lively throughout, stepped up for the penalty and fired beyond Altube to seal the silverware.
The surprise 4-2 victory sees Valencia lift the cup for the 9th time, and the 2nd time in succession, while a potential treble is still a realistic possibility as they currently sit top of the table. Despite their financial issues, Los Che have been sensational throughout this season, surpassing all expectation to date in their progress, and this latest victory underlines their progress, while also underlining the challenge the club may face in keeping the rookie manager with several big clubs already thought to be keen on tempting him away from La Mestalla.Share this: