A comprehensive 3-0 win over Malaga gave Nuno Espirito Santo his first win as Valencia manager on Friday night.
Paco Alcácer, Dani Parejo and Pablo Piatti were all on the scoresheet as they took advantage of a ten-man Malaga side. However, the scoreline doesn’t tell the full story and also masks the efforts of a spirited opposition.
Sofiane Feghouli nearly found the back of the net early on with diving header which flew inches past Carlos Kameni’s left-hand post.
Diego Alves pulled off a superb stop to deny Juanmi, whose deflected shot appeared to be heading for the corner of the Brazilian’s net.
Malaga were acquitting themselves well at the Mestalla, creating chances with as much frequency as their hosts.
But after 27 minutes, the finely poised game turned. Malaga midfielder Sergi Darder was shown a red card after a cynical stamp on the calf of Parejo. The red card was Malaga’s second in two matches, after Duda’s sending off against Athletic Club.
The sending off clearly had an influence on proceedings, as just three minutes later Valencia took the lead through Alcácer.
The 20-year-old has just been named in Vicente del Bosque’s senior Spain side, and silenced any doubters with his first goal of the season.
A real poacher’s effort, the young forward got in behind the Malaga rearguard and tapped in José Gaya’s cross.
Malaga wasted little time feeling sorry for themselves and almost equalised, with Ricardo Horta’s effort requiring the fingertips of Alves to tip the ball over the bar.
Malaga’s dastardly bad luck continued, as they conceded a penalty just a minute from the end of the first half. Weligton handled the ball in the area whilst making a tackle and was subsequently penalised.
Up stepped Los Che captain Parejo, but his spot kick was saved by Kameni. However, the Cameroonian 'keeper could not keep hold of the effort, leaving Parejo with the simple task of tapping into a largely empty net.
Despite being two goals behind and a man light, Javi Gracia's charges came out firing in the second 45. However, their increasingly bad luck continued as Juanmi seemed to have a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out for offside. Replays showed the young Malaga forward was level with the Valencia backline when the pass was made.
Malaga were still clearly a threat, and Valencia didn’t need another warning before putting the game beyond their Andalusian opponents with a third goal.
A well-worked move saw Feghouli feed Alcacer, who laid the ball off to the onrushing Pablo Piatti and the Argentine winger produced a clever finish, smashing the ball into the corner of Kameni’s net with the outside of his left foot.
Malaga never lost heart, and were gifted another opportunity when Valencia overplayed in their own half and conceded possession to substitute Samu Castillejo. However, the youngster found Diego Alves in his way, as had often been the case throughout the match.
The scoreline was harsh on Malaga in truth, but does not discount the efforts of Nuno’s men, as Valencia were very pleasing on the eye and more importantly secured all three points.
Goals: Alcácer (30), Parejo (45), Piatti (56)
Bookings: André Gomes, Weligton, Roberto Rosales
Red Cards: Sergi Darder
Valencia: Diego Alves, Nicolas Otamendi, Barragán, Rúben Vezo, José Gaya, Feghouli (Robert Ibanez), Dani Parejo, Javi Fuego, André Gomes (Bruno Zuculini), Pablo Piatti (Carles Gil), Paco Alcácer
Malaga: Carlos Kameni, Roberto Rosales, Weligton, Sergio Sánchez, Arthur Boka, Ignacio Camacho, Sergi Darder, Luis Alberto (Juanpi), Roque Santa Cruz, Ricardo Horta, Juanmi (Samu Castillejo)