Valencia moves six points clear of Villarreal with a victory over Real Sociedad, putting it within inches of a definite third place finish, whilst La Real could still go down
The game began with the intensity one would expect between two teams both in desperate need of three points. In the opening minutes Valencia took the upper hand, with its first shot coming just one minute into the game, but Joaquim blasted the ball over the crossbar. The next couple of chances again fell to Unai Emery’s men, and it looked to turn into an evening in which Bravo would be kept very busy.
Real Sociedad seemed to have initial trouble in penetrating Los Che’s box, coming close and passing around its perimeter, but not posing a real threat to GK Guaita until the tenth minute, when his timely intervention prevented Tamudo from running onto a loose ball. His thwarted endeavor marked the beginning of an extended spell of possession for Valencia, which was keeping La Real’s defense on edge with wave after wave of promising attack, often orchestrated by the sublime Juan Mata.
In the sixteenth minute Los Che’s efforts paid off, with Joaquim netting the first goal of the night. A ball from Mata looped over La Real’s defense to find Soldado, who volleyed it perfectly into the path of an onrushing Joaqium, who found no trouble in sliding the ball past Bravo. First blood to Valencia.
Rather then becoming disheartened by Joaquim’s opening strike, Real Sociedad renewed its efforts with fresh vigor and just two minutes later was somehow kept off the scoresheet after three shots in quick succession were denied, by the goalkeeper, Dealbert, and the bar respectively.
Valencia made it two just ten minutes later, Jonas getting on the end of a curling cross from Miguel to head the ball past a stretching Bravo into the bottom corner. Cue more celebrations from Los Che, and the blasting out of the somewhat incongruous Pirates of the Caribbean music that accompanies any goal at the Mestalla.
In the 37th minute, apparently eager to hear that music again, Valencia got its third of the night. The play was a mirror image of the second goal, this time the curling cross came from Mathieu, whipping across to find the head of a leaping Soldado. It put Unai Emery’s men up 3-0 at the half, and left Real Sociedad with a mountainous task ahead.
However, it was Valencia which began the second half as if it was trailing three goals, having four shots saved within the first five minutes. The club didn’t let up, with only the great efforts of Bravo preventing Real Sociedad from going five or even six goals down. La Real gradually began to seize more control in the match, closing down faster and retaining possession for longer, but the final pass was missing - as was Griezmann, incidentally.
The game was won in the first half, and Real Sociedad just couldn’t find a way back. Three points for Valencia almost clinches third place and automatic Champions League football next season, whilst a loss for La Real keeps them hovering at the edges of the drop zone, just a couple of points away from both safety and relegation. The rest of the weekend’s results could spell relief or disaster for Lasarte’s men.
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