Valencia strike late to down Depor
Full-back Mathieu broke the deadlock in the 77th minute before Pablo sealed the points deep into stoppage time with Valencia's second. The victory moves Valencia back to within two points of third-placed Villarreal and re-establishes their three-point advantage over Espanyol in fifth, but it was far from easy for Unai Emery's side.
They dominated possession but created little to trouble Depor during a disappointing first period, and the hosts could consider fortunate themselves not to have been trailing just after half-time as their mid-table opponents created two good chances.
Veteran defender Manuel Pablo fired the first opportunity wide at the far post following a well-worked Depor move, and then the unmarked Nouioui Lassad drew a fantastic one-handed save out of Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita diving down to his right.
Valencia survived that spell though, and, having gone close through Pablo, they looked certain to score in the 73rd minute after Ever Banega stabbed the ball past Deportivo La Coruna goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia. However, Banega's effort lacked power and the sliding Roberto Soldado could not divert the ball into the empty net as he was challenged by Diego Colotto.
With time running out it looked as though Valencia would be dropping yet more points at the Mestalla, following on from disappointing home results against Osasuna, Real Zaragoza and Real Mallorca earlier this season. But they found an unlikely hero to finally get them in front, with Mathieu netting only his second league goal for the club since joining in 2009.
The Frenchman raced onto Tino Costa's chipped pass into the area before thundering a left-footed strike past Aranzubia from a tight angle. That proved to be the decisive breakthrough, and there only looked like being one winner after that.
Soldado missed the chance to double Valencia's lead when his shot was parried by Aranzubia following a quick breakaway in the 89th minute, but Pablo was not to be denied four minutes later. He was picked out unmarked on the edge of the area by Juan Mata, then side-stepped Aranzubia before rolling his shot into the gaping net.