With Real Madrid and Barcelona both putting five goals past their respective opponents, and Athletic Bilbao impressing against Villarreal, the pressure was on Valencia to bag all three points against Sporting Gijon to maintain their 100% record in the Primera Division this season.
But the Mestalla faithful were stunned after just seven minutes when Diego Barral sneaked in behind the
Los Che had a chance to draw level just two minutes later when David Villa’s freekick just outside the box squeezed below the wall but Sporting goalkeeper, Juan Pablo was alert to the threat.
The Asturians were not content with the lead as they pushed forward periodically and looked the more threatening side while at the other end, Villa, Juan Mata and David Silva were struggling to find their usual groove.
But on 24 minutes, the deadly Villa restored parity for
Things quickly went from bad to worse for the Gijon-based outfit when Michel was sent off after a hand ball left the referee with little choice put to brandish a second yellow card.
With a man short, Sporting were pinned back inside their half for large spells and in the 37th minute, Villa had an opportunity to double his and the team’s tally on the night when he slid in unchallenged to meet Pablo Hernandez’s cross from the right but couldn’t make a clean enough connection to direct it on target.
David Silva beats Lora to the ball
Manolo Preciado men tried to catch their hosts off-guard by pressing forward early in the second half, but once
Los Che had a double chance just before the hour mark. First, Villa’s point-blank shot was saved brilliantly by Juan Pablo and moments later, Mathieu nodded Pablo’s cross just wide from close range.
But Villa would not be denied on 61 minutes. The in-form No. 7 spun past his marker to meet Bruno’s cutback before curling in a sumptuous left foot shot which nestled gloriously in the top corner.
With nothing to lose, Sporting adopted a more attacking approach and started pushing up again. But that only opened space for the Unai Emery’s troops. On 70 minutes, David Silva came close to getting on the scoresheet when his cool first time shot from Bruno’s pull-back trickled agonisingly wide at the back post with Juan Pablo flailing away.
The Mestalla men thought they were presented with an opportunity to put the icing on the cake ten minutes from time when Joaquin was bundled over inside the box by Canella but the referee waved away the penalty shouts.
Straight to the other end, Mate Bilic almost restored parity when he ghosted into the area behind two defenders but his shot from a tight angle was parried away by Moya and his rebound sailed straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
But on 85 minutes, the persistent Asturianos found their precious equaliser. Gerard’s freekick from the right was poorly punched away by Moya and Gregory was at hand to nod in the follow up.
Villa could have bagged his hat-trick and a winner for
The result leaves Los Che in fifth place on seven points after three rounds while Sporting remain in mid-table in tenth spot.
KS Leong, Goal.com