Friday, March 18, 2016

Valencia CF 2 - 1 Athletic Bilbao Match Report

A win tonight in the Mestalla that nonetheless sees Valencia CF get eliminated from the Europa League. With this our chances of getting into the Champions League next year have become practically zero.

I was going to say that we got eliminated to Athletic Bilbao but I didn't because the truth is we got eliminated by the referee. Enough is enough, seriously. I mean it's already a real struggle without referee interference but this makes it impossible to play and hugely demoralizes everyone. This was probably one of the best performances against tough opposition that I've seen from Valencia CF under Neville. We outright dominated Bilbao from beginning to end. They had about two to three chances and they were half chances to be more precise with only one good chance. Interceptions were great, there was a high level of intensity, the fans were behind the team, you could tell everyone wanted this tie to turn around. All gone to waste in the end cause the refereeing team, for one reason or another can only spot Valencia CF fouls and hand balls.

Valencia CF was pressing from the get-go in the first half, making smart challenges and dispossessing Bilbao players multiple times often leading to dangerous counter attacks. It would soon pay off as Gaya's cross made its way to Negredo who forced a save from the keeper and Santi Mina reacted quicker than everyone to slot the rebound past the keeper.

Valencia CF were tied on aggregate at this point and this was the only scoreline which would've taken the game to extra time and beyond. The players would'nt settle for that however as another Gaya cross would find Adrelan Santos who soared high over everyone to head it past a helpless Bilbao keeper.  The pressure from Valencia CF would be maintained at this level and time and time again, Bilbao's defense was under siege. They had to resort to taking players down and fouls to stop a few attacks, the referee stopped the game justifably but produced no warnings or cards to the challenges. Santi Mina and Fuego however pick up yellow cards on their first challenges.

Second half was much like the first, Valencia dominance. Shots from Andre Gomes, Rodrigo and Gaya all came really close to finding the net and extending the scoreline to a safer one but it wasn't to be. Then the controversy begins. A Bilbao players kicks the ball from close range at Gomes and in trying to get out of the way ball strikes his arms and he gets yellow carded. A few minutes later Bilbao were building an attack on the right wing and a lob from the defense was controlled by the midfielder's arm in front of the linesman, nothing was given and the play was allowed to go on amidst Valencia player's protest including Neville and the bench players. Bilbao capitalized on their chances as the following cross was set up nicely by Raul Garcia for Aduritz who would yet again score against Valencia. Neville got sent to the stands for his protest and the player's went to fight on. Even with the introduction of Paco alongside Negredo, Valencia couldn't overturn this result despite coming close from a Paco effort.

You could start making a list of everytime Valencia was robbed by the officals. I'm not talking about small decisions that go against us. It's always decisions that result in goals against Valencia or goals taken away from Valencia. From the U-19's outrageous penalty shootout, to the games against Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga, to this game, not to mention all the red cards and penalties disallowed. Again, I'm not talking as if this is deliberate but all this makes it seem like we're have really really really bad luck with officals.

1-0 Santi Mina
2-0 Adrelan Santos
2-1 Aduritz

Ryan (7) - made one really good save to keep us in the game, other than that was untroubled except for the goal which he couldn't do much about.
Santos (6.5) - good game, I hope he contributes more in the box in set pieces as he has done today. Could've possible stopped Bilbao's goal but was caught out.
Mustafi (6.5) - same deal, good have done more than he did for the goal but other than that played great and was organizing the defense during set pieces.
Vezo (7) - where did that come from? He played amazing today and as a right-back too. Well timed runs and patient build up when he joined the attack, never felt to exposed in defense.
Gaya (7) - more like the perfomances we're used to, terrorized defenders and those crosses were great, one of them resulting in a goal
Danilo (5.5) - a bit sloppy on the passing, sometimes felt a bit too rushed but good pressing from the Brazilian.
Fuego (6) - great tackling and had good control over the midfield.
Andre Gomes (6.5) - Amazing runs forward, his movement created lots of opening for players.
Rodrigo (5.5) - quiet for huge portions of the game but when he did get the chances he had a decent shot on goal and he almost set up a goal.
Negredo (5.5) - made the shot that set up the goal for Mina and his strength came in handy against Bilbao's physicality.
Santi Mina (7) - tireless and quick to react. He was pressing well upfront and reacted quickest for Valencia's first goal.