Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valencia CF 2-1 Espanol La Liga

At last Gary Neville has been able to savour his first win in La Liga.  It was far from an easy win but the most important thing is that we have the 3 points to take us a little further away from the drop zone.

With a near capacity crowd Valencia started well with Perez pushing the team forward from the midfield.  Chances came at both ends and recalled Diego Alves kept Valencia level with one of his magic saves.  Parejo had a great chance from a freekick well saved and Cancelo  Santos and Cheychev had chances but could not put the ball away.

Alves had been surprisingly recalled for the game by Gary Neville for his first game this season much to the delight of the Valencia fans who gave him a hero's welcome when he appeared on the pitch.
Things didn't go all to plan though when Abdennour had to be replaced in the 7th minute when he appeared to have suffered a recurrence of his thigh strain which has kept him low this week and he was replaced by Vezo.

The first half was a frustrating affair with Espanol playing better than they have done recently or were we allowing them to play better. Alcacer could and should have done better with 2 chances, once when close in he missed the near post and then a long shot was screwed wide with a clear view of the goal.  It has to be said that Cherychev operating on the left wing was certainly looking like a good signing and was causing all sorts of problems for the visitors.

The teams came out for the second half with the score still 0-0 but as is the norm we were soon a goal down.  A corner from the left was headed in when Alves should really have done better as the ball seemed to have been his to collect but was headed out of his hands.

Negredo came on for Rodrigo in the 59th minute who contribution was very poor and the change seemed to improve Valencia. In the 71st minute Cancelo had a great run into the area before laying the ball off to Negredo, who's deflected shot found the net. This was called our cup final before the game and the goal was celebrated like it was a final goal.

Was this going to be yet another draw, were we going to be denied our long awaited win.  Our new man Cheryshev was going to answer that question in the 76th minute when he put us in front for the first time with a powerful header after a great cross from Fehgouli after being put through from a lovely pass from Cancelo.  It has been a long time since I witnessed such a great reaction from the Mestalla crowd who had remained patient throughout and got behind the team. Barragan replaced the tiring Cheryshev in the 84th minute to tighten the right side defence  The final minutes were as tense as any I can remember for a long time at Mestalla but we held on to claim the much needed and well earned points. However, a mix up between Alves and Santos nearly spoiled the night when they left a ball for each other but fortunately a bewildered looking Cancelo managed to hook the ball away in what was the longest 2 seconds of my life to date.

A well earned 3 points from an improved performance. We really made hard work of it but kept on going right to the end to claim  the first win since the beginning of November.  Good to see the crowd back onside and the reception to the players before and after the game.  Cheryshev will have enjoyed the passion which he will have missed playing or watching with Madrid. Hopefully we can continue from here and get a few more wins. Yes the defence looked vulnerable at times but with the age of the defenders it is not too surprising.  Vezo, Santos, Cancelo.

Players Ratings
Alves 6.0   Great to see him back and making his amazing saves. At fault for the goal but we can forgive him for that, because he is Diego Alves.
Cancelo 7   A poor first half but really came to life after the break and had a big say in both goals causing all sorts of problems for the defenders of Espanol.
Vezo 6  Thrust in after the injury to Abdennour but settled to have a good game with one particular great run to set up a goal scoring opportunity.
Santos  6.0  Coped well and had a good game with his height and strength.
Siquiera  6  made a couple of bad errors but linked up well with the other new boy Cheyshev and looks like a good prospect once he settles into the team more.
Perez 6.5  Powerhouse in the midfield and really gets the team going with his energy.  Managed to pick up another stupid yellow though for back chatting the ref.  He really needs to calm his temper in his tackles and anger,  but I guess that makes him what he is.
Parejo  6.0 Some great passes as always but also still getting caught in possession too many times and giving away silly passes, I think he will never change.
Rodrigo 5.5  Still not living up to his hype and just gives the ball away and loses possession too many times. How long will Gary persevere with him, he has had so many chances to prove himself.
Feghouli 6  Poor first half like Cancelo but the both came to life after the break to look like their old selves.
Cheryshev 7.5  My man of the match proving today that we have a bit of a gem with a great headed goal and some mazy runs until he tired a bit later on.  I think he will do really well for us this season.
Alcacer 6   Not one of his better games and did not make the best of the few chances he had. I am sure he will be a little frustrated with his evening but will certainly come good again soon.

Negredo 6.5  for Rodrigo   Back in favour again with the fans with his second goal in 2 games. A little lucky with the shot being deflected but who cares, it was a goal.
Abdennour  Replaced by Vezo in 7th minute  Not on long enough.
Barragan  on for Cheryshev  not on long enough.

QUIZ.  What did Chelsea have in common with Valencia in their games yesterday and it has nothing to do with Nuno becoming the new Chelsea manager as stated in the ever reliable Superdeporte newspaper. ?

###  Clue 1  It involves 2 players from each team  ###

53 mins 0.1
71 mins 1.1 Negredo
76 mins 2.1 Cheryshev

Yellow cards
Perez for dissent