Unai Emery's side keep up their Champions League challenge with a hard-fought win.A volley from defender Jeremy Mathieu, and a neat finish from Pablo Hernandez proved enough to see off the resistance of Deportivo and give Valencia a vital three points at the Mestalla this afternoon.
The left-sided full-back found himself in the opposition penalty area to thrash the ball into the net from an acute angle, before Hernandez doubled the advantage in injury time and give Unai Emery's team the win they deserved on the balance of play.
The visitors set up with a hugely defensive outlook, playing five across the back and employing Lassad Nouioui, who has scored just six times in three seasons, in a lone striking role.
As a result, Los Che enjoyed the majority of first-half possession, without truly testing Daniel Aranzubia in the away goal. Jeremy Mathieu stung the keepers gloves with a powerful effort, while Juan Mata and Vicente combined to good effect on the periphery of the area, but were unable to break down Miguel Angel Lotina’s well-regimented side.
In the second half however the match opened up, and for the opening ten minutes it was the Galicians who looked more likely, coming out of their shell to create opportunities.
Indeed it was Nouioui who was handed a dream opening, as the ball spun to him on the edge of the area. He drilled his shot low, but Vicente Guaita was equal to it, pulling off a fantastic block to push the ball around the post.
That scare seemed to wake Valencia from their slumber, and in the last half hour they pushed for an elusive winner.
Pablo Hernandez was wasteful with an effort on the break, while Antonio Tomas did brilliantly to stop Roberto Soldado bundling the ball home after Ever Banega played him in.
Then, with twenty minutes remaining, Unai Emery introduced Tino Costa, and the skilful playmaker made an instant impact, creating what proved to be the goal that send the match Valencia's way.
His delicate lobbed pass found full-back Mathieu bombing into the area, and from a tight angle, he unleashed a superb volley that defeated Aranzubia at his near post.
And in the dying moments, they added gloss to the win when superb work on the right from Juan Mata fed Pablo Hernandez, who neatly side-stepped the lunge of Aranzubia to tap the ball into the empty net.
Valencia's win seems them solidify their position in the top four, while for Deportivo their lack of goals continues to be a considerable problem.
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