You might be excused for looking at the Villarreal team sheet and and concluding Marcelino wanted to rest a lot of Villarreal players, and this would be an easy win for Valencia as a result. Resting players, yes. But an easy win for the home side, not at all, as Villarreal scored two first-half goals and frankly coasted to a win against a misfiring Valencia side.
Samuel Garcia opened the scoring in the 14th minute, as Mustafi failed to control a throw-in from the byline near the Valencia goal, Roberto Soldado pounced on it, nutmegged a defender, and found Samu on the edge of the area. In spite of three Valencia defenders near him, he found time to turn and angle a shot past Alves.
How often do you see a player receive a pass in his own half ahead of the last man, run down to the other end, and score a goal? Because that's what Adrian did in the 34th minute to double Villarreal's lead. Roberto Soldado notched his second assist, and I have no idea what Alves was trying to do to defend the shot--he basically left most of the goal gaping and Adrian made no mistake.
In the 40th minute Villarreal deserved a third for a marvelous piece of team play, Trigueros's backheel opening up the Valencia defense for Soldado, but his shot went just wide of the post. Samu Garcia, Rodri, Soldado, Adrian--they seemed to be cutting up the Valencia defense to create danger whenever they recovered the ball.
As for Valencia, Cancelo was great on the right wing, but there was no one to get on the end of his crosses. Villarreal had four good chances in this half, Valencia none.
HT Valencia 0-2 Villarreal
I'd like to say that the home side improved in the second half, but they really didn't. Villarreal had a chance to make it 3-0 in the first minute from a free kick, and it just seemed a third goal for Villarreal was always going to be more likely than a Valencia goal to get the Mestalla crowd going. As it was, they amused themselves whistling Roberto Soldado whenever he got the ball. Once he departed with nearly half an hour left, a lot of the Valencia fans did too.
At some point I realized that it was Mother's Day in Spain and Valencia players were wearing the family names of their mothers on their backs. That was a nice touch.
Referee Carlos de Cerra Grande let the teams play, sometimes a bit too much, but hey, maybe he had a train to catch. Or maybe he had a dinner date--there are some very nice restaurants in Valencia!
Seriously, I think those blaming all of Valencia's problems on the Gary Neville management adventure should watch the tape of this match. Bottom line, tLos Che need some new blood. Villarreal, even 2-0 up, looked comfortable and continually created danger with quick passing and counterattacks. Pim, pam, poum, as the Spanish announcer on beinSport said.
Valencia relied on Cancelo crosses--for the most part--and though there were some dangerous ones, I can only remember one--which Rukavina cleared for a corner at the far post--which looked as if it could get to someone in a white shirt.
Very sad to see Denis Cheryshev injured again--his Valencia adventure is presumably over.
As the three minutes of injury time ran down, Adrian had a chance for a third, but that really would have been embarrassing for the home side.
FT Valencia 0-2 Villarreal
First win at Mestalla since 2008; first double over Valencia since the 2007-08 season; and this win, combined with Athletic Club's victory over Celta, ensures Villarreal finish in fourth place in La Liga and take their place in the Champions League playoff round. Now for Liverpool on Thursday. ENDAVANT VILLARREAL!!