The visitors put an end to a two match league losing streak with victory, but it was a nervy performance over the impressive home side, which remains in a relegation battle
Valencia got its season back on track with a 1-0 victory over Granada in a fiery encounter at Los Carmenes.
Sofiane Feghouli put the visitors ahead in the first half with a shot that squirmed through the hands of goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The home side rallied, but could not find an equalizer, allowing the visitors to clinch the points after two consecutive league defeats.
The game started with Unai Emery’s side being hustled and harried, and not being allowed to gain a foothold in the contest.
Chances were few and far between early on. It took 18 minutes for the first real attempt, defender Inigo Lopez failing to make contact with the ball after a corner was bent into the six yard box.
A couple of minutes later the visitors responded. Jeremy Mathieu managed to keep the ball in play, clipping in a cross for Roberto Soldado, but the in-form Spain striker could only head over. Soldado then found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Cesar made himself big to block the effort.
Los Che were starting to take control, and this told as the deadlock was broken just after the half-hour mark. The Brazilian Jonas slid Feghouli through on goal, who cut back onto his left foot to strike the ball towards the bottom left-hand corner of the goal. Cesar got a hand on the shot, but it agonizingly trickled past the line.
Valencia had a chance to make it two near the end of the half, but Jordi Alba’s volley skimmed the crossbar.
However, it was Granada which came out firing in the second half. Udinese loanee Jaime Romero hit the post cut in and with his left foot, struck the ball straight at the near post. Vicente Guaita was beaten, but the post came to his rescue.
The visitors were under the cosh, but looked dangerous on the counterattack. Ten minutes after the break, Soldado pulled the ball back for Tino Costa on the edge of the area, but he could only steer the ball wide of the right-hand post.
The home side was on top, but were not showing the cutting edge that was needed to find an equalizer. Valencia must be given credit for its defensive showing though, with center pairing Adil Rami and Victor Ruiz Torre looking unbeatable.
Time was running out for the southern side; a chance from a free kick was wasted by midfielder Abel, whose shot was gathered in easily by the impressive Guaita. The home side then had the ball in the net late on, but three players were in offside positions, and the team could not make its impressive performance count.
The result means that Valencia is now six points clear of fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao, and looks odds on for Champions League soccer next year. Granada remains four points above the relegation zone.