Soldado treble seals Valencia turnaround
Roberto Soldado struck twice in the final three minutes at the Mestalla to complete a hat-trick and seal a dramatic 4-3 victory for Valencia over Racing Santander in their La Liga opener.
Adrian Gonzalez made it 3-1 for the visitors ten minutes after the break, but Adil Rami reduced the deficit almost immediately, while Soldado's late brace settled the back-and-forth encounter in the hosts' favour.
Valencia, starting life without Juan Mata following the Spanish midfielder's move to Chelsea, made a dream start and were ahead before a minute was on the clock. Pablo Hernandez's 20-yard shot was fumbled by Antonio Tono, and Soldado pounced on the rebound.
Soldado was on the scoresheet again less than six minutes later, but this time at the wrong end as he headed Kennedy Bakircioglu's corner past Vicente Guaita. Racing completed the turnaround in the 14th minute, Acosta slotting home a low shot from Manuel Arana's set-up.
Shell-shocked Valencia pushed forward in an attempt to get back on level terms with Hernandez lashing wide and Soldado firing over. Pablo Piatti then saw a left-footed blast parried by Tono, before Rami headed a Hernandez free-kick wide and Ever Banega's drive was blocked by Alvaro Gonzalez as Racing held on until half-time.
Adrian extended that lead ten minutes into the second half as he found the bottom-left corner from 12 yards. A minute later Valencia were right back in it, though, as Rami headed Hernandez's cross into the top corner.
Valencia then had three chances in quick succession to get back on level terms, but were denied on all three occasions by Tono. The Racing goalkeeper first tipped over a powerful Soldado header, then caught another header from Rami and parried a Soldado shot.
It looked like it would not be Valencia's night when substitute Jonas struck the post in the 73rd minute, but Soldado's late intervention changed all that.
He first latched onto Jonas' pass and placed his shot into the bottom-left corner in the 88th minute, and then two minutes later prodded home Jordi Alba's left-wing cross to complete a stunning turnaround.