Valencia CF managed to win against RCD Espanyol in what was a straightforward match for almost 90 minutes, but basically a last minute error by both Parejo and Mustafi guaranteed a nerve racking ending in which Espanyol had more chances to score than their whole match before that.
Anyways Valencia CF managed a revenge for the cup loss and got 3 important points at an away terrain, something that has been very difficult for the team to do consistently and the team is back on a good track once again. As I suspected the return of Pablo Piatti was crucial, with him managing to score a goal in his first match after a month out with injury.
The first half was mostly battle for control in the midfield, we saw a Valencia CF side that fought for midfield control and for the first time in so many matches the team managed to lead in the possession percentages, but the chances were not coming. In fact it was Espanyol who threatened first with a short range shot being saved by Diego Alves, managing to prevent a goal.
Nuno Santo made an early second half substitution bringing in Gomes for Enzo Perez who I must criticize for being really ineffective ever since that Real Madrid match. I mean he came in and his first match was amazing, did so much work in that match against Real Madrid and ever since then his contributions have been minimal. He doesn't add anything of value to the Valencian midfield and at this point seems kind of a very expensive surplus to requirements.
Back to the game though, Valencia CF were playing more wide at the second period, but again chances were at a premium and to make matters worse Paco acquired what seems like a muscle injury and was substituted for Negredo.
The first goal would come in the 62nd minute, when Parejo would pass on to Gaya and this one would cross inside the penalty area where the ball found Piatti who's touch was just enough to change the ball movement and slot it into the net.
The second goal for Valencia CF would come in the 85th minute from a Parejo free kick. Parejo free kick shot was superb, hitting the post and the ball bouncing from the post to the goalkeepers back or head and bouncing inside the net. It was a bit lucky, but on the other hand it was a great show as well.
Just as it seemed that it would be a fairly straightforward win, Parejo and Mustafi had to complicate the situation by allowing Espanyol to score. Parejo had the ball and in original Parejo fashion he makes a really risky backward pass, Mustafi half sleeping failed to get to the ball as the determined Sergio Garcia lifted his leg further up, got the ball and went on to score a goal and give Espanyol a chance.
The 4 minutes stoppage time were nerve racking with Espanyol looking really dangerous, but ultimately Valencia CF held and secured themselves a very important win, especially considering that Sevilla lost their match against Getafe.
BTW my prediction was spot on. The match finished exactly as I predicted.
RCD Espanyol: Pau López; Arbilla, Álvaro González, Héctor Moreno, Duarte; Cañas, Víctor Sánchez (Salva Sevilla, m. 69), Lucas Vázquez, Víctor Álvarez (Montañés, m. 77); Sergio García, Caicedo (Stuani, m. 68).
Valencia CF: Diego Alves; Antonio Barragán, Shkodran Mustafi, Lucas Orban, José Gayá; Javi Fuego, Enzo Pérez (André Gomes, m. 46), Dani Parejo, Pablo Piatti; Rodrigo (Sofiane Feghouli, m. 71), Paco Alcácer (Álvaro Negredo, m. 52).
Pablo Piatti 1-0, 62 min. Assist Jose Luis Gaya
Pau Sabata(o.g.) 2-0, 85 min.
Sergio Garcia 1-2, 89 min.
Diego 7 - Crucial save in the first half and generally solid at the back.
Barragan 6.5 - Solid at the back, few important defensive blocks and decent movement forward, though nothing to brag home about.
Mustafi 5.5 - Big blunder there at the end, very unfocused and easily beaten to give Espanyol a goal back. Other than that was decent in defense.
Orban 5.5 - Poor performance, easily passed and dribbled by few times as well as poor positioning few times.
Gaya 8 - Once again big performance from Gaya being one of the biggest threats in the team going forward and doing a solid defensive job as well. His forward arrays were rewarded when his cross reached Piatti who managed to score.
Fuego 6 - Good defensive interceptions, covered the final third and made accurate short passes.
Parejo 7 - Would have had better rank if not for his terrible back pass that lead to Espanyol's goal. Was the engine for the team, moving the team forward and pretty much creating most of the play.
Enzo 5 - The honeymoon period is over and his contributions will be looked much more critically by me. As in the last few matches he hasn't contributed much. He ran a lot, but that alone is not enough if he doesn't achieve anything with all that running. Seems lost as to what to do and how to play.
Moreno 5.5 - Was pretty much invisible for most of the match. Hardly any contribution and the few times he got the ball on the left he didn't do anything with it.
Paco 5.5 - Didn't have much service, so hard to judge him. Seemed a willing runner and covered big distances, but unfortunately got injured and forced out of the game early.
Piatti 8 - Has been crucial for many matches this season and to hear many fans in the comments say he is bad or not good enough is very strange. Once again a very Piatti like contribution with lost of running on the left, getting few defenders on to himself and creating space on the other side and being in the right place for the Gaya cross to score the first goal for Valencia CF.
Gomes 5.5 - Improvement over Enzo, but he won't be too pleased with his performance either. Needs to step up and provide better passes and support the flanks more.
Negredo 5.5 - Similar contribution to Paco, nothing too substantial.
Feghouli N/A - Hard to judge his play, he had enough time, but I feel like with the way the game was played I can't give him a rating. If I had to it would probably be around 6, he did have few good moves in the center of the pitch and helped pressure Espanyol midfield a lot.