Billed as the game between the two managers Rafael Benitez and Gary Neville but of course it was much more than that and both teams were desperate for the points for different reasons. A great reception also for Benitez with a large banner thanking him for the success he brought the club in the past. Also he would have been very proud to hear his name being chanted by the home supporters. Obviously respected more by the away fans than his own. Is it possible that Peter Lim will have had a little chat with him while he was here as regards what he may be doing when Madrid fire him ?
The game started in a lively manner with both teams having equal time on the ball but after 16 minutes Madrid went in front. A poor clearance from Abdenour which seemed to bounce off him and go straight to Benzema. He made a quick pass to Bale who flicked it back to him for him to beat Jaume with a low shot into the corner. Again, unfortunately Abdenour will take most of the blame for that one but there were enough defenders around to maybe have got it away. The goal was against the run of play slightly and fortunately Valencia did not let it affect them and Cancelo popped up in the Madrid box to head just wide from which would have been a great equalizer from a cross by De Paul.
Abdenour had the opportunity to equalize when from a corner from the left he sliced narrowly wide as he was falling with the goal beckoning. However, right on the half time the scores were level. A great run by Andre Gomes saw him floored just in front of goal when Pepe brought him down and Parejo stepped up to calmly slide the ball past Navas to send us in on equal terms.
In the second half Gomez had a great shot from outside the area in the 62nd minute which was saved well by Navas. Then on 68 mins Cancelo was fouled from behind by Kovacic and the referee has no hesitation in sending the Madrid player off for the bad challenge. By now the crowd were left stunned. A penalty against Real Madrid and their player sent off, amazing. and all in one game.
In the 80th minute Rodrigo Moreno came on for Orban who was limping but soon after in the 81st minute the game turned again against Valencia when another needless foul by, this time, Cancello in a dangerous position, allowed Bale to score with a header high into the net. But the game was far from over and for those foolish people making their way to the exits more was to come. De Paul put in a great cross from the left and Moreno leapt to head the ball to Alcacer to head home and send the large crowd crazy. Surely this was the end of the drama but no ! In the dying seconds Negredo was put clear having come on for Parejo and missed a great chance to put us in front for the first time. To be fair Navas made a great save but really he should have done better. Bale had another opportunity to steal the game in the last seconds but blazed over to leave the score level at the final whistle.
Jaume 6.5 Not much to do really considering it was R.M. but did what was required without fuss as always. Could not be faulted for either goal really.
Barragan 6 Steady game with nothing spectacular but defended quite well throughout. a bit slow getting back at times which is not ideal when playing against the likes of Bale and co.
Santos 6.5 Looking more safe as each game goes by and seems more confident now. He does the simple things and gets the ball away when needed.
Abdenour 6 Mainly at fault for the first goal but had a very good second half. Will Gary stick with him when Mustafi is fit or will he keep Santos in the team. I suspect Abdenour will stay in.
Orban 6 Had a good game again but sometimes gets turned a bit too easily. Not at fault for either goal so that is a plus.
Cancelo 6 A good game generally but maybe should have done better with the header and at times a bit too casual with his passing in dangerous areas. almost gave a goal away when passing across his own goal and needless foul for the free kick for their first goal.
Parejo 6.5 loses points for the number of times he gave away the ball but his vision and passing was excellent apart from the silly lapses in concentration. A great penalty.
Danilo 6 Worked hard but has a way to go to impress. However, he is young and strong and full of running but still one for the future.
Gomes 7 Made the penalty and full of running. He really caused the visitors problems every time he had the ball.
De Paul 7 Had a great game with his hard work all over the pitch. So glad he wasn't taken off for Piatti. He has to be a regular now. I hope you are watching Nuno.
Alcacer 7 Worked hard as a lone striker and got the important header to win us the point. Did not do much but was for long times isolated in the way we played. Can always be relied on though to finish when it is needed.
Moreno 6.5 for Orban 80 mins Hard to judge but looked really lively and hungry and it was almost like we had signed a new player as he has been away so long. In the short time he was on he looked really impressive and of course helped with the goal. Please keep it up.
Negredo for Parejo 85 mins Not enough time but should have scored
Fuego for De Paul 88 mins not enough time but the little he did, he did it badly
Gary Neville 8 Some brave substitutions with forwards to go and win the game. Hopefully next week he will get his first win in La Liga
Parejo pen 45 mins. assist Gomes
Alcacer 83 mins assist Moreno
Referee 7 Nice to get a decent, brave and unbiased referee.