Valencia continue Hercules woes
Valencia's fine La Liga form continued as they dispatched travel sick Hercules at the Mestalla. Los Che were denied a club record-equalling sixth successive victory by Racing Santander on Monday, but goals from Aritz Aduriz and Tino Costa ensured they made it six from seven today.
The defeat left Hercules, who extraordinarily beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp back in September, still looking for their second away win of the season, while they have now lost four league games in a row.
What quality there was in the first half came from the home side. After six minutes, Costa lifted the ball over the bar after the Hercules defence could only clear the ball into his path. Ever Banega was next to try his luck but he fired wide from 25 yards.
In a rare Hercules attack after 24 minutes, Nelson Valdez slipped his markers following a long ball out of defence, but spooned his shot over the bar. Valencia came agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 38th minute when Mehmet Topal thundered a shot against the post from an acute angle after Abel Aguilar could not clear a corner from Alejandro Dominguez
Acrobatic Aduritz opens scoring
When the goal came, it arrived courtesy of a mix of neat attacking play and slack defending. Navarro played a great long pass to Roberto Salgado, who was given the freedom of the Hercules half as Rodri attempted and failed to play him offside. Navarro crossed to Aduriz, who flicked the ball up with David Cortes sliding in ineffectively, and acrobatically bundled the ball past Juan Calatayud.
In stoppage time, Hercules had a great chance to level, but Olivier Thomert dragged a left-footed shot wide after being played in by a neat flick from Tote, who was allowed to play on despite clearly being in an offside position.
Valencia almost had a second when, after some neat play down the left, Jeremy Mathieu sent in a teasing cross and Aduriz flicked his header on goal, but Calatayud saved. But they did not have to wait long, as Costa lifted a left-footed free-kick over the wall and into the net after Rodri fouled Soldado 25 yards from goal.
Valencia screamed for a penalty after 75 minutes when Aduriz was seemingly hauled down by Juanra, but the referee waved play on. Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, a bystander for much of the game, produced a stunning save after 82 minutes.
Francisco Rufete's cross was headed by Topal only as far as Matias Fritzler, whose volley with the outside of his foot was curling just inside the post before a sprawling Guaita fingertipped it wide. In an entertaining finish, Royston Drenthe twice went close with long-range efforts while, at the other end, Juanra blocked Soldado's shot on the goal line with Calatayud stranded.