Monday, 7 February 2011

Match Report: Valencia 2 Hércules 0

FT: Valencia 2 (Aduriz 43, Tino Costa 53) – Hércules 0

Valencia consolidated their position the race for Champions League football next season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hércules.

Another Tino Costa wonder strike and an altogether more scrappy effort from Aduriz were enough to give Unai Emery a confortable evening – for once victory assured without any need for last minute heroics.

Both managers had surprised with their team selections. Emery again utilising his squad, five changes this time from the side that started in Santander on Monday night, however, it was a surprise to see Aritz Aduriz paired with Roberto Soldado. Los Che’s two principal frontmen have proved good buys this season but have rarely been given the opportunity to form a partnership. Emery also surprised by excluding all of his natural wide players, a midfield diamond of Costa, Ever Banega, Mehmet Topal and Chori Dominguez chosen instead.

Esteban Vigo also made a change up front with top scorer David Trezeguet dropped to the bench. In fairness to the Hercules boss the Frenchman has yet to score on the road this season but Nelson Valdez looked far less effective playing as the main striker than he has in a supporting role for most of the season.

The early stages were, like most derby matches, littered with fouls and a number of yellow cards. Amazingly the second-half passed without a single card after five in the first had appeared the make the possibility of a red a matter of when, not if.

Unsurprisingly, Valencia were suffering from a lack of width whilst Valdez was left too isolated when the visitors had possession high up the field.

The first real chance didn’t arrive until the 38th minute. Topal’s effort striking the post after a poor clearance from Abel Aguilar had given him the opportunity from Costa’s corner. Yet, the hosts had to wait only five minutes before they did break the deadlock. Soldado for once providing some width on the right-hand side and his low cross into the near post was hooked into the net by Aduriz.

The hosts were considerably better in the second period and killed the game off within seven minutes of the restart. Aduriz had already been denied by Juan Calatayud before Costa fired in the second with a trademark, curling free-kick from 25 yards.

Vigo turned to Royston Drenthe, after his (hardly unjusitifed) strike action had seen him excluded from the side in recent weeks, and old Valencia favourite Rufete to try and turn the tide but strangely left Trezeguet on the sidelines. The introductions did offer more width and support to Valdez in attack but also opened up the visitors to a number of effective counter-attacks from the hosts.

Juanra denied the home side a third on two occasions, firstly, stopping Aduriz in his tracks after a wonderful through ball from Banega and then clearing off the line from Soldado.

In between Vicente Guaita had to make his first decent save of the game, beating away a fierce Matias Fritzler drive.

Overall, a deserved win for Los Che who closed the gap on Villarreal to just the one point. Hércules continue their abysmal run on the road – just the one victory away all season (and yes it was that one) – and now find themselves very much in a relegation fight, now locked in a group of five sides only a point outside the relegation zone.

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