Valencia keep up third-placed push
A decisive second-half showing from Valencia against bottom club Almeria ensured they remained six points clear of Villarreal in the race for third spot in the La Liga.
Having dispatched their rivals for the UEFA Champions League berth 5-0 last time out, Los Che were on a high going into the match but found themselves frustrated by the relegation strugglers during the opening period.
Cagey first half
The visitors forced the first corner of the game with less than a minute on the clock but it was well defended by Almeria. With Almeria working hard, Valencia had little else to offer in the opening quarter of an hour, Ricardo Costa's yellow card the only incident worthy of note.
Ever Banega roused them out of first gear soon after, though, unleashing a right-footed strike from 30 yards and rapping the post with Andres Esteban beaten. Pablo Hernandez tried his luck from similar range in the 24th minute but Santiago Acasiete was on hand to smother the danger.
Long-range efforts were becoming the order of the day as Leonardo Ulloa heaved one over the bar from distance for Almeria. Pablo Piatti also missed the target for the home side but this time from only six yards as Almeria produced a great chance to go ahead.
Soldado sets Valencia going
Piatti and Hernandez were both looking lively and each had two chances either side of half-time as the game began to open up. After 50 minutes the now inevitable goal arrived, Jeremy Mathieu with the assist and Soldado heading in from 12 yards.
Ulloa worked goalkeeper Vicente Guaita as Almeria attempted to draw level but instead it was Valencia who scored next, Stankevicius turning home Costa's headed pass.
Almeria's race looked to be run by now and Hernandez again went close when he stung Esteban's palms from 25 yards. Mehmet Topal bicycle-kicked the resulting corner to force another save within seconds.
There was no surprise to see a third go in with ten minutes left. Joaquin made the key pass from the left channel, with fellow replacement Alba finding the target with a neat finish.