Valencia went second in La Liga after a comfortable 3-1 win over Espanyol at the Mestalla this weekend.
Pablo Piatti, Daniel Parejo and Paco Alcacer were all on target for the second consecutive game, before Sergio Garcia grabbed a consolation from the penalty spot in stoppage-time for the visitors.
New signing Alvaro Negredo watched from the stands and will have been motivated by yet another brilliant attacking display from Nuno Espirito Santo’s men, which saw them score three times on home turf for a second straight match.
The play by play
Both sides made just a single change from last time out, with Rodrigo coming in for Sofiane Feghouli for Santo’s men while Sergio Gonzalez brought Anaitz Arbilla in for Victor Alvarez at left-back.
Santo was justified of his decision just seven minutes in. Andre Gomes broke from midfield and drove into the heart of the Espanyol defence. He laid the ball to the right for Rodrigo, who took on Arbilla before cutting the ball back across the area for Piatti to slide into the unguarded net.
Chances did not fall too freely for the remainder of the first half, though the visitors’ first one of the second saw them wrongly denied an equaliser by the assistant referee. Garcia latched on to Salva Sevilla’s through pass and finished well past Diego Alves, but the offside flag cut his joy short though replays showed that the forward was level with both full-backs as the ball was played.
The second half
Valencia’s move in the 59th minute deserved a goal only for a strong hand from Kiko Casilla. Parejo found Antonio Barragan down the right flank and his cross found Alcacer. The Spanish striker then teed up Rodrigo, whose placed first-time effort was heading for the far corner before being pushed away by Espanyol’s number one.
Parejo started the move again as he made it 2-0 four minutes later. He played the ball to Rodrigo and it broke kindly for him after the forward’s intended reverse pass to Alcacer ricocheted his way. The defence backed off and he had too much space to advance and sweep the ball into the corner.
Alcacer then matched the scoreline against Malaga when he got his side’s third 10 minutes later. Substitute Feghouli received the ball from Parejo and broke with pace down the right-hand side, his through ball evaded Piatti but found the new Spanish international who rounded the keeper before tucking the ball away.
Espanyol are yet to register their first win of the 2014/15 campaign but they managed to get on the score sheet for the third straight game. Javi Guego tripped Garcia in the area after some strong play from the forward, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. He took the kick himself and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way.