Valencia thump five past Villarreal
Valencia took a giant step towards securing themselves a third-place finish in the Primera Division with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over local rivals Villarreal at the Mestalla.
Roberto Soldado, who scored all four goals in last weekend's 4-2 win at Getafe, continued his fine run of form by opening the scoring in the 14th minute. Juan Mata added a double in the second half, either side of an Ever Banega strike, before Soldado's second goal sealed the rout to increase Valencia's advantage over fourth-placed Villarreal to six points.
"We have found it difficult to be consistent and play well for 90 minutes, but we have managed to do it in this match. It was an excellent performance," said Valencia coach Unai Emery.
"We also acknowledge the work and the great season Villarreal are having to the extent they have made us adapt our game to them. The only thing we still need to do is be more effective in defence and improve the way we defend with five back."
Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido admitted he was taken aback by the scale of the defeat. "The scoreline is painful for us because we knew that we could lose but not by such a margin," Garrido said.
Soldado opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a fine finish across Diego Lopez, slotting into the bottom-left corner after being slid through by Miguel's neat pass.
Los Che almost went two up three minutes later. Marius Stankevicius' header looked goal bound, but Joan Capdevila got his body in the way to ensure it resulted in no more damage than a corner.
The Yellow Submarine had been on the back foot for most of the first half, but almost equalised nine minutes before the break, Cesar beating away a Nilmar effort and tipping Borja Valero's free-kick over the bar. Pablo Hernandez side-footed wide for the hosts when well placed in the 43rd minute and Nilmar fired over at the other end moments later following a bustling run from Cazorla, but there were no further first-half goals.
Valencia made the result safe with two further goals, however, in the opening 17 minutes of the second half. First Mata finished off a brilliant team move by firing in the second after a slick one-two with Banega, and then the Argentinian international got on the board by slotting home after an enterprising run and cut-back down the right from Pablo.
Pablo was again a key figure in the fourth, linking up with Soldado before teeing up Mata to finish with his left foot in the 73rd minute into an open net. Two minutes later it was five, Soldado brilliantly dinking over Lopez to round off the scoring.