Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Valencia 1-0 Leganes

Tonight, sadly, was the last game of the season against Leganes, a team that Valencia had beaten already 3 times this season. We duly made it a clean sweep for the season, with only the margin of victory the slight let-down.

Voro made no concessions for the upcoming game against Atletico, fielding the strongest team possible. Mangala came back in for Abdennour, Gaya and Perez also returned and up front, with virtually everyone who could play left wing injured or suspended, Bakkali finally got a start.

The first half was a comfortable enough one for Valencia, without threatening too much. Zaza had a couple of tough chances in the first 10 minutes, heading over. The clearest chance came in the 18th minute, with a ricochet giving Bakkali a one-on-one with the keeper, he did well to lift it over him, but the ball went wide. Valencia had most of the possession but weren't creating much and some of the final balls were disappointing. We defeinitely missed having Nani or Orellana this game, though Gaya put in a good shift.

Just as the Mestalla was getting restless, the breakthrough came. Parejo had had perfect pass completion up to this point. He had yet another amazing free kick which was tipped over from the keeper. From the resulting corner, Mangala scored his first ever Valencia goal after a scramble in the box.

If Valencia were struggling for attacking ideas, Leganes looked even worse. Their tactic seemed to be to foul as much as possible. The closest they came to getting anything was in the 31st minute when they had a good penalty shout waved away. With their left back on a yellow, Voro switched Munir and Bakkali, hoping that Bakkali's pace would draw a foul and a second yellow. This worked 5 minutes later, as he clattered through Bakkali. The free kick was given, but not the yellow.

The half ended with Valencia having had close on 70% possession, but with a lack of chances. The second half followed much of the same pattern as the first. Valencia dominated the midfield. Parejo was passing well. Soler always looked dangerous and Zaza, obviously bored with no one managing to pass through to him was harassing both their defence and midfield. The problem was that even when Valencia did get any kind of attack going, our players would be fouled. Bakkali had put in a reasonable shift and came off for Lato. The match petered out with both sides creating little in the way of threat and Leganes' dirty play inevitably resulted in them going down to 10 men.

A game that deserved a bigger win from Valencia, but a win to nil is such a rarity that it's hard to complain too much. That's 3 clean sheets from 5 games and three wins in a row at the Mestalla. The relegation zone looks far away now. With Las Palmas and Betis yet to play, this result puts us temporarily up to 12th, our highest position this season, so it's safe to say progress is being made, though there will be dips like the Alaves game along the way.

PLAYER RATINGS
Alves 6 - had nothing to do the whole game. I wish he would stop spending so much time on the ball, though.
Gaya 6.5 - good game and put in same nice crosses
Mangala 7.5 - decent game from the big man, cut out a lot of their attacks and nice to see him finally score.
Garay 7 - part of a good defensive performance
Cancelo 6 - injury to Montoya means we're stuck with him at right back where he's average. Giving him a higher score due to his offensive contributions.
Enzo 6.5 - essential part of the midfield trio and any game where he completes 90 minutes without getting booked must be a rarity
Parejo 8 - top class, great passing, anticipation and free kicks. Hope he stays.
Soler 7.5 - a great game, always looked an attacking threat
Bakkali 6 - good to see him get a game, but his passing and decision making could be better
Zaza 6.5 - had barely any scoring chances, but I liked his workrate and harrassment of their players
Munir 3.5 - had to check that he played. Did provide the assist, but anonymous performance

SUBS
Lato 6 - would really like to see this guy play more
Nacho Gil N/A - brother of Carles Gil, good luck to him.

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