Valencia CF wins 2-0 over its fierce rival Sevilla FC. This was a must win match tonight for Valencia CF and fortunately the team did not disappoint. This puts the team only 1 point off of 4th place and since Malaga is playing against FC Barcelona tomorrow, I'm assuming they are going to loose. Of course Betis and Vallecano are also ahead with one point, but I don't think they are capable of challenging for 4th spot over all of the season, similarly like how Espanyol fizzled out I believe 2 years ago when they were in contention for top 4 until the second half of the season.
So a very important win, loosing this match would have been terrible and would have distanced Valencia CF too much from the top 4 positions, which would have affected the players moral and then you have big problems. As it is the team got a boost to the morale and will face Real Madrid next in the Copa Del Rey, who drew today to Osasuna.
The match itself started slowly with Valencia CF exerting its influence on the proceedings with Albelda and Banega able to control the midfield and easily spread the ball around, with only low level pressure coming from Sevilla players. First opportunity for Valencia CF would come through Jonas who released Soldado, but the ball was too fast.
Jonas would get the ball again close to the penalty area of Sevilla, but instead of shooting or passing wide he decided to complicate stuff and try to get the ball through the center and it failed. Ricardo Costa would have the best chance of the first half and for that matter in the second half as well, as he got to the ball through the chaos after a corner kick, but failed to hit the goal.
Towards the end of the first half David Albelda got injured with what seems a thigh muscle injury and I guess his 35 years of age finally showed as he also played just 3 days ago in the cup against Osasuna. He should have gotten a rest either then or today.
Overall there were several opportunities for Valencia CF in the first half, but the players complicated stuff in the final third too much and failed to convert them to chances or goals.
Second half started with Valencia CF positioning higher on the pitch and Piatti switching from the left wing in the first half to the right and this had a positive effect immediately as Valencia CF were able to move the ball quicker to attack and have more penetration on the right with Piatti and Joao Pereira combining well there.
First goal would come in the 50th minute with Soldado scoring a header to an assist by Adil Rami.
After the goal the team tempo dropped a bit though and for whatever reason Banega started playing as a second striker. This allowed Sevilla FC to start creeping back into the game and slowly regaining control of the midfield. In fact over the match there were few scares for Valencia CF as Tino, Banega and Parejo all lost the ball once in dangerous positions allowing Sevilla fast and dangerous counter attacks, especially the one when Parejo lost the ball or rather he was dispossessed of the ball, with Sevilla attacking with 5 players vs 3, but they failed to score thanks to a rather good save by Diego Alves who was alert and quick to react, even though he had virtually nothing to do for most of the match before that one chance for Sevilla.
Then in the 89th minute Roberto Soldado sealed the deal scoring with a header after a corner kick done by Banega.
Valencia CF (2): Alves, Joao, Rami, R.Costa, Guardado, Albelda (Tino Costa, min. 40 '), Ever; Piatti (Valdez, min. 81'), Parejo (Victor Ruiz, min.90 '), Jonas, Soldado.
Sevilla FC (0): D. Lopez Cicinho (Perotti, min.63 ') (Baba, min.80'), Fazio, Spahic, F. Navarro; Medel, Kondogbia; Navas, Rakitic, Reyes (Stevanovic, min.83 '); Negredo.
Goals: 1-0 Min 50, Soldado; 2-0 Min89, Soldado.
Diego 6 - Had absolutely nothing to do except for a fine save late in the match and did well to save the goal.
Joao Pereira 6 - Had a good match defensively and a great offensive display as he was very active in the first half and providing several passes and crosses into the penalty area.
Rami 7.5 - Great performance by Rami, anticipated the ball very well and had few crucial interceptions, providing the assist to Soldado's first goal as well.
R. Costa 6 - Secure performance from Costa who dealt with everything that came his way.
Guardado 6.5 - Very secure defensive display as he easily dealt with Navas and while he didn't provide too much in attack he did serve as additional midfielder often times and was open to receive the ball.
Albelda N/A - Had a great start, taking the ball out of defense into attack easily and was even involved offensively at times, but unfortunately he got injured and had to be substituted.
Banega 6.5 - Not a great performance by any means, he was quite ineffective in the second half and was barely even involved in the match, receiving the ball only several times. Was lucky enough for his cross from a corner kick to find Soldado and get himself an assist in what was an otherwise poor display.
Piatti 6 - Limited performance from the Argentinian as he was quite ineffective on the left wing, improved a lot when he switched sides and had some good runs on the right.
Parejo 6.5 - Complete performance by Parejo as he was always available to receive the ball and link up with players, dropping deep in the second half and organizing the play. Only one slip up and he was lucky it didn't turn out in a goal for Sevilla FC.
Jonas 6 - Was very involved in the first half, trying serveal passes into the penalty area and trying to find Soldado, but none really worked out. Did provide a good outlet for attack and tracked back often as well.
Soldado 7.5 (MotM) - Scored two goals and decided the game. Was full of running all match long and found himself in great positions to be able to score the two goals.
Tino 5.5 - Very limited performance after coming on, making only simple and easy passes, though he did cover for the defense quite somewhat and provided some energy in the middle.
Valdez N/A - Not enough time
Ruiz N/A - Minute after coming on got himself booked.