Soldado brace boosts Valencia
Roberto Soldado scored twice as Valencia returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win at home to Real Sociedad in La Liga this evening.
Unai Emery's side had lost their last two matches and started the day just three points ahead of fourth-placed Villarreal, but they had this match wrapped up by half-time. Soldado, having scored seven goals in the last five games, continued his red-hot form with two more in this game, either side of Jonas Goncalves' strike after 25 minutes.
Valencia dominated from the outset and there were chances for Joaquin, Angel Dealbert and Soldado in the first ten minutes.
The former Real Madrid striker was unable to get on the end of Joaquin's cross after seven minutes, but gave the home side the lead nine minutes later when he popped up at the far post to finish off a low cross from Juan Mata's cross following good work by David Albelda.
Raul Tamudo headed a good chance over the bar moments later at the other end, but Jonas made it 2-0 after 25 minutes, when the Brazilian forward got on the end of Miguel's cross to head past Claudio Bravo. And after Mikel Aranburu had missed a good chance for Real, Soldado gave Valencia a three-goal lead when he beat Bravo with a superb header from Jeremy Mathieu's cross.
Mata and David Zurutuza missed good chances for their respective teams late on, but the game was decided early on and the second half was very much a foregone conclusion.
Real, on 41 points, are still not safe with three games left, but Valencia saw their chances of automatic qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League given a real boost as they moved six points clear of Villarreal, who play Mallorca tomorrow.