Friday, 4 December 2009

Valencia - Lille

So I totally said I would do a match report on games I watch and I've only just got around to actually typing this up because I'm a lazy cow at the best of times. Anyway, Europa League game #5 of 6. It couldn't have got Valencia an automatic qualification for the knock out stages, but it certainly gave them a fighting chance, and would put them top of the group if results went their way. In order to secure qualification, the safest thing would be to win their final group game against Genoa.

The game started off incredibly well indeed for the home side. They were a goal up within 3 minutes, thanks to a combination of good positioning from Joaquin and very poor defending from the French side. Of course, with Valencia, one goal is never quite good enough. If I'm painfully honest, with Moya in goal, even two goals are rarely good enough. Not to be deterred, Valencia kept pushing, and looked the far more dangerous side in attack. The ball rarely made it into their own half, but when it did, the defence and goalkeeper were (maybe somewhat surprisingly) very good at dealing with the danger.

It wasn't that long until their constant pressing led to another defence splitting pass landing at Joaquin's feet and he made no mistake, burying the ball for the second time that evening to put Valencia 2-0 up at the break.

Lille were playing very dirty, throwing tackles left, right and center, but that didn't seem to affect the flow of the game, and after the break, it was more of the same from Valencia. In the 53rd minute, they were rewarded with their third, Mata scoring to put the game beyond the away side's reach.

It wasn't until the 73rd minute Unai made his first change, taking Mata off probably to rest him for the La Liga game at the weekend and putting Miku on. Three minutes later, Joaquin was substituted, denying him the chance of a hat trick. His replacement, Jordi Alba, made an instant impact on the left wing, making dangerous runs. Apparently too dangerous for the Lille side, who decided that trying to hurt the Valencia players was the only way they were going to get anything out of the game.

Heading towards the final whistle, it looked like Moya was going to keep his first clean sheet since the opening game of the season against Sevilla, but Lille had other ideas. They scored in the 92nd, and went close again just 30 seconds later, making a thrilling end to an otherwise Valencia dominated game.