Valencia qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in style with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Group C whipping boys Bursaspor this evening. Los Che, who beat the Turkish side 4-0 away from home in their first meeting, had the match all but wrapped up by half-time after blitzing their opponents with four goals in a stunning 20-minute spell in the opening period.
Attacking quartet Juan Manuel Mata, Roberto Soldado, Aritz Aduriz and Joaquin Sanchez were all on the scoresheet prior to the interval, while Soldado and Alejandro Dominguez added further goals in the second half for Unai Emery's side, who might have won by an even bigger margin.
The victory means the Primera Division outfit are now assured of a top-two finish in Group C and will play Manchester United for first place at Old Trafford in the final round of fixtures. United stayed three points clear of Los Che after beating Rangers this evening.For Bursaspor, who netted a consolation goal through Pablo Batalla when 5-0 behind, a fifth successive loss means they are now certain to finish bottom of the standings.
"The objective was obviously to reach the knockout phase but we want to do it as group winners," said Valencia coach Unai Emery. "We have the opportunity to achieve it on the perfect stage against a team (Manchester United) that beat us at the Mestalla. We had a lot of respect for Bursaspor and we wanted to play with intensity from the start. In the end it was a big win that leaves the team and the fans happy."
Valencia were quickly out of the blocks and might have been two goals ahead in the opening four minutes with Aduriz and Joaquin both having decent chances. Bursaspor then gave Valencia a couple of major scares of their own - not least when Sercan Yildirim was put clean through in the 12th minute. The Turkey international could not take advantage, though, as his lob over home goalkeeper Miguel Moya landed just wide of the far post, and after that it was pretty much all Valencia.
We had a lot of respect for Bursaspor and we wanted to play with intensity from the start. In the end it was a big win that leaves the team and the fans happy.
Mata opened the scoring in the 16th minute from the penalty spot after Omer Erdogan was adjudged to have brought down Aduriz inside the area even though the Bursaspor captain, who got both ball and man, looked from impressed by the decision.
Five minutes after that it was 2-0 as Aduriz and Mata combined to set up Soldado, who lashed the ball in from close range, before Aduriz made it 3-0 in the 30th minute. Jordi Alba and Mata combined well down the left before the former's low cross picked out Aduriz, who slotted home at the second attempt after Ivankov had blocked his first effort.
Soldado was then denied when one on one with Ivankov as Valencia continued to dominate before Emery's side did make it 4-0 in the 37th minute through captain Joaquin, who turned inside Erdogan on the edge of the box before curling a shot into the far top corner.
The misery did not end there for Bursaspor, however, and Valencia picked up where they left off after half-time. It took the home side only 10 minutes to increase their lead as Soldado took his tally to five goals in the five group games. The twice-capped Spain international latched onto a through-ball, rounded Ivankov on the edge of the box and then smashed a thunderous rising shot past the covering Erdogan on the line.
A brilliant one-handed save from Ivankov prevented Valencia substitute Dominguez from heading in the Spanish side's sixth goal in the 62nd minute. To their credit, Bursaspor continued to fight despite the match being beyond them, and Volkan Sen and Turgay Bahadir both tested young Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita - who had replaced the injured Moya in the first half - before the Turks pulled a goal back in the 69th minute.
Yildirim fired over a low cross to the far post where substitute Batalla slotted in from close range as the Valencia defence appealed in vain for offside. That was not the end of the scoring though, as Valencia made it 6-1 12 minutes from time, Dominguez firing in after Mata had passed on a long punt forward by Guaita, completing a comprehensive victory for the hosts.