Finally, Valencia's first win in the Spanish league and it was hard fought one, definitely much harder than I'd imagined it and basically just in the final minutes of the match, thanks to a Paco Alcacer strike.
The match started as I'd expected with Valencia CF pressuring really high, fighting for every ball, trying to go forward as much as possible and in my preview I wrote that I was expecting a goal in the first 20 minutes after a high energy start, but we didn't get that. In fact Sporting Gijon stood firm and after an initial 10-15 minutes of higher energy play from Valencia CF, the game settled down.
Valencia CF was going forward and the team was attacking, but there were no concise actions, no clear chances. Feghouli and Cancelo were combining well on the right wing, Parejo was playing good and spreading the ball efficiently, but once again Valencia CF lacked that final ball, they lacked cohesion in the final third, there didn't see to be any precise movements there, where we'd significantly threaten Sporting Gijon.
The second half was pretty much same as the first, it was mostly Valencia CF controlling the ball and tempo of the match, with Sporting Gijon having occasional counter attack and sporadic attacks. Unfortunately we weren't doing much with the ball at our feet, I can't say Negredo had some clear cut chance to be able to score from and there was a lack of players in the final third, once again I felt Enzo Perez played too defensively in the first and in the second half, he was better in the second half, but still not good enough. He did have one great cross to Parejo, who's volley barely missed, it hid the crossbar and went out.
Nuno Santo brought in Ander Gomes for the ineffective Enzo Perez and you could clearly see a bit of more urgency in the play, Andre Gomes is a more direct and attacking players, so he wasn't afraid to dribble and try the risky pass, which at that point Valencia CF desperately needed. Even with Gomes on and playing rather good, considering this is his first game after over 3 months on injury the team couldn't find that final pass, a good chance to score.
In fact it was Sporting Gijon that came closest to winning, all within one action, a shot forced goalkeeper Jaume to save, but the rebound fell right to a Gijon player, his shot was once again saved by Jaume and once again the rebound ended up again to a Sporting Gijon player, forcing Jaume into a third save. Valencia CF was lucky not to concede there and it was quite a bit of slack defending, we were fortunate to keep the scoreless draw there.
Anyways Paco Alcacer would end up making the difference in the final moments of the match, Valencia CF were attacking as much as possibly in the final minutes, with Paco also having a fair chance earlier as well, but it was in the 92nd minute after a shot from Feghouli was blocked, making the ball fly on the left side to I believe it was Bakkali who's cross was headed into the net by Paco Alcacer to make it 1-0 for Valencia CF.
Just in the last second of the match Valencia CF would have a scare in front of goal, as the ball kind of casually walked in the penalty area reaching an unmarked Gijon player, but fortunately he kind of decided to position himself a bit too much, then dribble past Cancelo and ultimately the chance was ruined.
It was a hard fought victory for Valencia CF, but a win nonetheless, with Valencia CF sporting 5 points now from 3 matches and finally entering the competition for the top spots.
Sporting Gijon: Cuellar, Luis Hernández, Bernardo, Sergio Álvarez, Lora, Mascarell (Nacho Cases, min. 60), Isma López, Sanabria, Páblo Pérez (Carmona, min 81), Jony, Halilovic (Guerrero, min. 69).
Valencia CF: Jaume Doménech; Cancelo, Mustafi, Abdennour, Gayà; Feghouli, Parejo, Piatti (Bakkali, min 81), , Enzo Pérez (André Gomes, min. 66), Javi Fuego, Negredo (Paco Alcácer, min 75)
Paco Alcacer 0-1; 92 min. Assist Zakaria Bakkali
Jaume 8.5 - Wasn't troubled for most of the match, but did have to have several saves in a span of just seconds to keep Valencia CF in the match, had several crucial saves, in what was in general a calm match for him for 89 minutes.
Cancelo 6.5 - He had a good game, wasn't troubled a lot at the back and went forward often, linked up well enough with Feghouli.
Mustafi 6 - Decent game, can't fault him directly for any of the Gijon chances, it was usually a chaos type situation in the penalty area.
Aymen 6 - Was watching him closely since its his first game and came in as a big reinforcement, he did well, had some good interceptions, good one on one, though a bit suspect positioning at times, I guess he still needs to form a better understanding with his team mates and for the coach tactics.
Gaya 6.5 - Similar performance to Cancelo just on the left side, this time last year he was playing superbly and providing assists left and right, but this season he's started slower, I'd expect him to have at least one more level of better performances in the future.
Fuego 5.5 - Wasn't troubled much at the back, but he did seem to find himself watching in some of the Gijon attacks.
Enzo Perez 5 - Don't know if this is tactical issue or if he just doesn't know his role, but he seems way too defensive to me. Was more attack oriented in the second half, but really needs to do more in an attacking sense.
Parejo 6.5 - The only real player in midfield that actually did stuff, provided passes, was a good outlet in midfield, went forward, went back, seemed to only one playing in midfield.
Feghouli 6.5 - Seemed eager to get forward and as always he is full of running, provided some decent crosses and passes in the penalty area and caused trouble for Gijon's defense.
Negredo 5.5 - Not quite the performance from previous games, though didn't have much service.
Piatti 5.5 - Had a good chance to score a goal, but his shot was wide, other than that he didn't provide too much.
Gomes 6 - Provided a much needed direct running and brought a fresh energy to the team, created quite a bit of attacks and was active when he came on.
Paco 6.5 - Had one chance to score a goal, but wasn't quite accurate and then headed home a goal to give Valencia CF the win in the final moments of the match.
Bakkali 6.5 - Not enough time to really give a score, but he did provide the assist for the goal and was really active in his short time on the field, so I'm giving him a 6.5