reAMUNTada! A historic night at the Mestalla as Valencia make one of the greatest comebacks in Europe from a 3-0 loss to Basel. This win makes the aggregate result 5-3 in favor of Valencia who now qualify to the semi finals of the Europa League. This was one of the best, if not the best, performances I've seen Valencia put up. Everything was done right and I felt the team really wanted to prove themselves, really wanted to win for themselves and for the fans.
At the beginning of the first half no one would've guessed what was about to happen. It started off as a regular first half would start, nothing special. Everyone knew Valencia had to score that first half if they were to have a chance. And that's exactly what happened. Alcacer scored after skillfully controlling from a beautiful inward curving cross from Joao Pereira. That's when something triggered and suddenly there was a belief and a rush of blood in the stadium. Soon after Vargas's header was denied at point blank range by Basel's skillful keeper in the night, Sommer. Vargas would make up for it in the resulting corner, heading it to the top right this time. At that point the fans were out of control and the runs kept coming, I didn't want the half to end.
The second half picked up with the same relentless runs as the first half. Basel was given no chance to breath. And then came the best goal of the night. Vargas pulled the cross back for Alcacer who was making a run towards the box and the youngster fired it off the crossbar into the net. It was really beautiful goal, the best for Valencia in a long time. If you haven't already seen it you should. Alcacer could've ended the game in regular time when he came one on one with Basel's keeper Sommer but couldn't get past him. This took the game to extra time.
Now throughout the whole game, Basel had to sit and defend the barrage of attacks from Valencia and that meant that they picked up a lot of bookings. Two Basel players were sent off in the span of a about 5 minutes and then Valencia took advantage and scored twice, Alcacer completed his hat-trick and Bernat had a one-on-one chance which he converted to a goal.
Overall great night, as we got to see what this team is truly capable of. Comebacks from 3-0 is quite an accomplishment for any team. Basel are no weak team by any standards too, they play quite well but tonight they couldn't do anything. They barely had a shot or two on goal. So this leaves Valencia with a chance to qualify for the Europa League next year. The draw for the semi-final is tomorrow and the possible opponents are Sevilla, Juventus or Benefica --all strong teams. If Valencia continue playing like they did today, then there is nothing to fear against any of these three. Now, this form has to be maintained in La Liga. The team has to be able to put up a good performance despite playing to extra time. This weekend's game against Elche should be interesting to watch in order to judge the consistency of the team. In a few weeks, there will be tough games against both Madrid Clubs (Atletico and Real) which if the team approach like today's game, should be great to watch.
This game has also made me fear for Valencia' stars. The performances of the player's today will not go unnoticed, especially Alcacer's. Clubs have already come asking for him and not just any we are talking European Giants. After today's brilliant performance, his contract must be extended quickly before anyone tries to get their hands on him. That goes the same for Fede and Bernat. Valencia must not repeat what happened with Isco and Alba. The youngster of Valencia are their greatest assets and must be protected.
Valencia CF (5) :Guaita, Bernat, Mathieu, Fuego, Pereira, Fede, Keita, Parejo, Feghouli, Vargas, Alcacer
1-0 Alcacer, 38'
2-0 Vargas, 42'
3-0 Alcacer, 70'
4-0 Alcacer, 113'
5-0 Bernat, 118'
Guaita - 7.0 - Had almost nothing to do all game except for one or two good saves. I hope he's regaining his form.
Bernat - 7.5 - Great defending, great runs and a goal to top it off. Really consistent performances by the youngster
Mathieu - 7.0 - Took charge of the team very well and prevented any Basel players from even getting in the six yard box. Good captaining.
Fuego - 7.0 - The makeshift center back for the evening was making interceptions quite frequently. You couldn't tell we were missing a center back.
Pereira - 7.0 - Like his counter part on the other wing, made brilliant runs forwards. His cross started the comeback. Was quick to track back and defend.
Keita - 7.0 - Finally regaining the form that made him a first team player on Barcelona. Controlled the midfield and was running around a lot despite his age.
Parejo - 7.0 - Was all over the pitch helping with everything. One moment he would intercept a ball in defense, the next he would be taking a shot in the six yard box. Great partnership in the midfield with Keita to control the midfield
Fede - 7.0 - Linked up well with Bernat. Provided the corner cross for Vargas goal. Constantly creating danger on the left wing.
Feghouli - 7.0 - As usual terrorized defenders from the right with his pace and dribbling
Vargas - 7.5- Great perseverance by scoring right after he had his shot blocked by Sommer. Linked up well with Alcacer and provided a brilliant assist for Alcacer's second goal.
Alcacer - 9.0 - The hero for Valencia fans everywhere. His name will be attributed to this great comeback. Wonderful finishing from the Valencia youth product, scoring his first hat-trick in Valencia. He could very well become the next Villa or yet surpass him if he keeps this up. From being a great player for the youth academy to bad form for the first team and then loaned to Getafe. This night symbolizes a come-back for Alcacer as well. Really proved himself out there.