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Sobrino heads to Tyneside

Valencia announced today they had agreed a deal with Newcastle United which will see peripheral striker Rubén Sobrino move to the English Premier League side for a fee of around £4.1 million. The 28 year old striker has not featured to date this season for the club he joined 18 months ago, and with Valencia under financial pressure they were always keen to try and move him on before the transfer deadline in just a few days time.

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The former Spanish youth international originally began his career with Real Madrid, starting with their C team making his debut back in the 2011-12 season. The following year he made his first appearance in la Segunda División B. Continuing his development, at the end of that season he was to make his first appearance with La Castilla, before then moving on to SD Ponferradina in the Segunda after the Castilla side were relegated.

Following a season in which he scored 5 times in 41 appearances, he earned a shock move to Premier League giants Manchester City, the fee thought to be around £250,000 for the English side, although he was never to feature directly for the club. As part of the City ranks, like many others his first move saw him join Girona, then also in the Segunda, on loan, where he would make 10 appearances and score just 2 goals. The following season, another loan move followed, this time to Alavés in La Liga. His first season saw him make just 11 appearances, scoring twice, although the Álava based club extended his loan for a further season, before eventually agreeing a permanent deal and four year contract with the player. In total he would score just 8 goals during his 3 years with the club, before eventually switching to Valencia in January 2019, making 4 league appearances (8 in total) in his first season at La Mestalla. Last season he was to feature more frequently, with 17 appearances in all competitions, but again his return was poor, finding the net just one time.

With his career stuttering, and clearly out of the first team picture at Valencia this season, where the club had even opted not to register him in their initial La Liga squad, the move provides a great opportunity for the 28 year old to try and discover his early promise, while the £4 million plus return, and another player off the wages, makes economic sense for the Spanish side. From Newcastle's point of view, with Callum Wilson and Dwight Gayle both currently injured, his signing gives them further options and cover for the likes of Joelinton and Andy Carroll in the attacking department.

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Sobrino: Moves to England in a bid to recapture his early promise


Back at Valencia, fellow striker Kevin Gameiro was celebrating having a fantastic month as he picked up the La Liga player of the month for September. The French striker has scored 5 goals in the opening 3 fixtures to date, including a double against both Valladolid and Real Betis. A penalty against former side Atlético in his last game sees the former PSG and Sevilla forward also lead the pichichi so far, alongside Lionel Messi. His performances to date have also seen him pick up back to back man of the match awards, as the 33 year old seems to be relishing life under the system employed by new coach Sie Barlow. The former French international is now just one goal away from mirroring his best La Liga return for his current club, finding the net 6 times in both the 18/19 and 19/20 campaigns.

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Gameiro: Five goals in September sees French striker pick up individual award
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No new arrivals as club face embargo

Valencia boss Sie Barlow was dealt a blow today when the Valencian side announced they would be placing themselves under a temporary transfer embargo as controversial owner Peter Lim looks to sell the club he took over back in 2014. The decision will no doubt be a blow to Barlow, who had hoped to reinvest some of the funds received recently for Rubén Sobrino, who completed his switch to Newcastle United, in adding some much needed experience and depth to his squad. Despite the uncertainty off the pitch, with the club still having the shadow off the abandoned half-completed Nou Mestalla project hanging over them, on field they have enjoyed a fine start under their new manager, the British coach leading them briefly to top spot with 2 wins and a draw from their opening 3 fixtures.

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Peter Lim: Controversial owner places embargo on any further transfer dealings


With the deadline set to come in the next few days, Barlow will now face a challenge to perhaps promote from within to what is already one of the youngest squads in the competition, with no possibility of bringing in new faces at present. That said, with rumours abound of a potential Chinese backer, any resolution could ultimately end up being of benefit to both the club and the British manager, as more funds could finally be made available to allow Valencia to compete again back at the top table in European football. The latest speculation suggests Chinese investor Zhao Haoran is interested in the club, with promises of a £250 million plus transfer kitty should his bid be successful, although any figures at this time should be taken largely with a pinch of salt, especially with current owner Peter Lim heavily involved in brokering any deal for the takeover. One thing is for sure, the management and players at least will be hoping for a speedy resolution to the issue, while also trying to ignore any developments and speculation to remain focused on trying to maintain the momentum gained from the fantastic opening to the campaign.

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Takeover talk: Big transfer kitty promised in potential deal with Chinese
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Valencia maintain great start with slender win

Valencia ensured their great start to the season continued as they picked up another 3 points with a 1-0 victory against Cádiz at the Mestalla. Many were expecting a goal fest as the hosts squared off against the team currently in 15th position in La Liga, but despite creating a wealth of chances the game was decided by a solitary goal in the end. Valencia made just one change from their impressive 2-2 draw last weekend, fit again Jason coming back in on the right with Guedes dropping to the bench.

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Valencia, who have scored early on in all three of their opening fixtures, almost repeated the trick again, Uros Racic winning the ball back in midfield, and finding Kevin Gameiro in space on the right, but this time the in-form striker dragged his shot wide. A few moments later Cádiz then had to rely on keeper Ledesma to tip the ball over after Soler and Maxi Gómez worked the ball into space for winger Cheryshev, the keeper reacting well to tip his shot over. Antonio Valencia then broke down the right, and his high cross found Maxi Gómez in the middle, but his looping header was plucked out of the air by Ledesma. Uruguayan striker Maxi Gómez then found himself through again, this time courtesy of a Cheryshev through ball, but he was again thwarted by Ledesma, this time the keeper making the stop with his feet.

At the other end, Cádiz, who had failed thus far to create anything, had their first chance of note when Jairo found himself with some time and space on the edge of the area, but he snapped at his shot and fired well over the bar. With Valencia clearly on top in the opening 45 minutes, Barlow made a change at the break sending on Guedes for Jason, the winger returning to fitness having looked slightly off the pace in the first half. The Portuguese winger almost had an immediate impact, dragging a shot wide just 2 minutes into the second half. Next to try their luck was midfielder Carlos Soler, making his 150th appearance for the club. His strike from distance was again easily marshalled by Ledesma, who was having a fine game in goal for the visitors. Soler was then integral again, his pressing to win the ball in midfield and his pass looking to release Gameiro, but a fine last ditch tackle by Cala denied the striker the chance to get a shot away.

Just after the hour mark the returning Daniel Wass was sent on for his first competitive appearance of the season, replacing Antonio Valencia at right-back, as the hosts continued to dominate position in this one sided affair. The deadlock was eventually broken in the 73rd minute. Carlos Soler was again the instigator, winning the ball in the middle before setting Maxi Gómez free down the right. His first touch looked like he had taken the ball too wide, but finding a yard of space from Iza he somehow then bent one into the near post from range, although on replay Ledesma should have done better to keep it out, although he was perhaps surprised the Uruguayan striker opted to shoot from such an angle.

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Maxi Gómez: Finally breaks deadlock in second half with long range curler


Impressive Soler was then replaced by Korean midfield man Lee Kang-In, while Zirkzee and Smith-Rowe also came on for Gameiro and Cheryshev, as the home side looked to drive home their advantage in the closing quarter. Gonçalo Guedes almost doubled the advantage after a fine solo run, breaking all the way from the back after a failed Cádiz corner, his eventual effort smashing back off the woodwork before the visitors eventually cleared, the resulting inswinging corner from Gayà easily punched clear by Ledesma. Maxi Gómez then almost doubled his haul after more pressing from Valencia rushed the visitors into a mistake, Smith-Rowe finding the striker but his shot blocked at the last moment. Into injury time the hosts continued to push forward, the last chance of note seeing Racic volley over after Ledesma had parried an initial effort from Lee Kang-In. In spite of the slender scoreline, Valencia once again leapfrogged Barcelona, who were in action later in the day, to reclaim top spot, with Maxi Gómez picking up man of the match for his winning goal.

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Maxi Gómez: Picks up man of the match award for only goal in game


Meanwhile, off the pitch it was reported talks with the Chinese investors had broke down, and while disappointing with the club still looking for a resolution, it at least means the transfer embargo has once again been lifted as the club enter the final days of the transfer window with a renewed opportunity to bring in a few new faces to the threadbare squad.
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Week 4 in review

Barcelona maintained top spot as they carried their 100% start to the season into October, Messi again finding the net in a 3-1 victory away to Eibar, with Griezmann also grabbing another two. The weekend began with Real Betis picking up their first win of the season, a Borja Iglesias penalty enough to ensure a 1-0 victory away to Villarreal, who had Vicente Iborra sent off at the start of the second half. The biggest shock of the weekend came at San Mamés, where Athletic Bilbao ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against Atlético Madrid. Real Madrid also returned to winning ways, albeit with a narrow 1-0 win at home to Real Sociedad courtesy of a Martin Ødegaard goal in the second half. Huesca picked up another crucial point at the bottom in a 2-2 draw with Alavés, while fellow strugglers Celta Vigo and Valladolid shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Osasuna moved into fifth spot with a 1-0 win over Granada, while Sevilla slipped down after suffering a 2-1 defat at home against Getafe. The final game of the weekend saw Elche edge out Levante 2-1.

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Transfer Deadline Day

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The transfer window slammed shut on Monday evening with a shock return to the Bernabéu for Argentine winger Ángel Di María. Rumours circulated throughout the day of Real Madrid potentially making a bid for their former winger, now at PSG, with a fee of around £25 million speculated, but few could have expected the deal to go over the line. Di María originally joined the La Liga club back in 2010, signing a five year deal for a fee speculated to be worth in excess of £40 million, going on to make over 190 appearances with the club before eventually making the switch to Manchester United, joining the Premier League side for a whopping £59.7 million. During his time in Spain, he enjoyed some success with Los Blancos, picking up a La Liga title, 2 Copa Del Rey, a Supercopa and success in Europe with both a Champions’ League and UEFA Super Cup winners medal.

Success in England was harder to come by, however, and despite the eye watering fee, Di María struggled to find the form in Manchester that had originally made him one of the best wingers in the world, making just 32 competitive appearances for the club before being shipped off to PSG for an undisclosed fee after just one season in the UK. Scoring 15 times in his first season in the French capital, he rediscovered his earlier form, going on to pick up 4 successive French trebles, such was the dominance of his club side, as well as finishing runner-up in last year’s Champions’ League final. Despite an impressive start this season, with 2 goals in 6 games, the French giants were clearly willing to entertain the possibility of allowing Fideo to return to Spain, and a deal was eventually agreed with just hours to spare.

Elsewhere in La Liga, Valencia were one of the busier clubs with two departures and two new arrivals on deadline day. Heading out was 23 year old attacking player Manu Vallejo, who Barlow had been looking to move on for financial reasons since his arrival at the club back in the Summer. Interest in the former Spanish under-21 international was high, with RB Leipzig making an offer to bring in the player on a permanent deal, while Crystal Palace and la liga side Villarreal both preferred a loan deal, with the potential of a future transfer at the end of the season. With all three deals accepted, the decision was left with the player himself, and after speaking with all three clubs he made it clear that staying in Spain with Villarreal was his preferred option. Since joining the club back in February 2019, for a deal of around £5 million, although spending the first 6 months on loan back at previous club Cádiz, Vallejo made 10 league appearances in his first season with the club, finding the net just twice in that time, missing most of the season with a foot injury picked up in December. Following the departure of Rubén Sobrino earlier in the window, Barlow made it clear he was also hopeful to move on Vallejo as he looked to finalise his squad. The agreement with Villarreal has an option for the Castellón club to make deal permanent for £6 million at the end of the year long loan spell.

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Also heading out of the club is recent arrival Rodri, the young midfielder heading to join Segunda Division B side Melilla, where he will be looking to feature heavily as he looks to continue his development. The promising 20 year old, who arrived from Betis for £1 million earlier in the window, is set to be a regular starter for his new club, who despite being Spanish are an exclave based on the northwest coast of Africa.

Heading into the club, a deal was agreed for another promising youngster as 22 year old German forward Janni Serra arrived from Holstein Kiel. The former Dortmund youngster, who had been identified by the Valencia scouting network, was placed on the transfer list by the Bundesliga 2 side, forcing the la liga club to act. Serra began his youth career with Hannover 96, before also being at TSV Havelse before eventually ending up in the developmental ranks of German giants Borussia Dortmund. Featuring for the Dortmund II side, he made 13 appearances and scored 3 goals in his first season back in 2017-18 in the Regionalliga, before heading to VfL Bochum on loan, where he made 12 appearances in the Bundesliga 2, although he failed to get off the mark for his new side. A permanent move then followed to Holstein Kiel, where he was to spend 2 seasons, scoring an average of 1 in 3 in his first season, and a slightly better return in his second year, with 7 league goals in 19 appearances. Serra has also featured throughout the German youth ranks, representing his country and U17, U18, U19 and under-21 level to date. The powerful striker, who had scored 2 in 3 this season before finding himself transfer listed, moves to the Spanish side for a fee of around £800k.

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Also joining him at the Mestalla is former Portuguese international Vieirinha. The 34 year old, who can play down both the right and the left hand side, comes in for a bargain £400k. Starting with Vitória SC, Vieirinha eventually made the breakthrough with Porto, where he starred for their B team, hitting 12 goals in 38 games, while also enjoying a relatively successful loan spell with fell Portuguese Second division side FC Marco, scoring 4 times in 13 appearances. After earning promotion to the senior team, making his debut in the Portuguese Super Cup in 2006, where he scored the final goal in a 3-0 win, he went on to make 8 league appearances with the club as they lifted the Primeira Liga.

The following season, Vieirinha was on the move, heading on loan to newly promoted side Leixões S.C., ultimately helping the club stay up during his 22 appearances with the side. On his return to Portugal, he was immediately sent out on loan again, this time to Greek giants PAOK in the Greek Super League. He was to make just 16 appearances for his new side in an injury hit first season, although he did enough to convince PAOK to make the deal permanent in a £1 million switch. He was to spend the next 2 1/2 seasons with PAOK, before he was on the move again, this time heading to Germany to sign with VfL Wolfsburg. In a deal worth around £4 million, he helped his new side win their first domestic cup, an impressive 3-1 win over Dortmund. Even more success was to follow as they triumphed over Bayern Munich to also pick up the German Super Cup at the start of the following campaign.

In total, during his 5 1/2 years with the Bundesliga side he made over 150 appearances, scoring 7 goals, before it was announced he was returning to Greece, the deal to return to PAOK for a similar £1 million fee eventually being agreed in August 2017. This time round success followed, as he scored a free kick in the final of the Greek cup, where he also picked up man of the match and the trophy as captain. The following season, the Greek side retained the cup, while also lifting the Super League, with Vieirinha scoring 5 goals in 26 games before picking up a cruciate ligament injury. Last season, after returning to fitness, he made a total of 23 appearances scoring 6 times. A fully fledged Portuguese international, picking up a total of 25 appearances, his last coming in 2016 where he also enjoyed international success as his country were crowned Euro winners, his availability was highlighted by Valencia director of football and Portuguese compatriot Antero Henrique. With a deal costing the La Liga side just £400k, despite his age, his versatility is expected to be a massive benefit for the Spanish side in the coming season, with the veteran winger also able to provide cover at either full-back, an area where Valencia have already had injury concerns this season. Vieirinha has been handed the 21 shirt, vacated by Vallejo, for the coming campaign.

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International Round-Up (Part 3)

There was once again a strong Valencian flavour as the Spanish U-19’s returned to action, with 11 of the clubs youngsters in action in a 1-1 draw away to Norway. Andrés Céspedes, Joseda, Iván Muñoz, Jésus Vázquez, César Tárrega and Pedro Alemañ were all handed starting berths for the la selección, while Rubén Iranzo, Hugo González, Andrés Garcia, Cristhian Mosquera and Alejandro Salas all came off the bench during the stalemate.

Meanwhile, Hugo Guillamón once again started for the Under 21s in a 2-0 defeat away to Russia, coming off after 74 minutes with his country trailing 1-0 at the time. There were better fortunes for skipper José Gayà, who played 77 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Belgium in the Nations League, handing the Spanish side their first win in the competition, which sees them move up to second in the table.

Full back Daniel Wass returned to International action, grabbing an assist in his return from injury during a comfortable 3-0 win against Switzerland. The Danes have now won 3 out of 3 in Group 4, seeing them 5 points clear of Spain at the top. There was also another impressive international showing for Lee Kang-In, who grabbed an assist and was instrumental in a 5-0 demolition of Malaysia. Fellow young midfielder Yunus Musah was handed his full international debut as he came on for the USA for the last 27 minutes against Tunisia in a 1-1 draw.

Another in action as a substitute was Gonçalo Guedes, who had 21 minutes from the bench in a very impressive 2-0 win against France, Atlético Madrid striker João Félix and former Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo grabbing the goals. Other starters were Antonio Valencia, who played the full game in a 5-1 crushing of Bolivia, and Jasper Cillessen, who was on the end of 4 goals as his Netherlands team were brushed aside by England 4-1 on the night, Sterling, Kane, Mount and Chilwell finding the target against the Valencia shot-stopper.

The Netherlands Under-21s faired fair better, winning 3-2 against Norway with Valencia loanee Joshua Zirkzee playing 75 minutes of the game and also helping himself to a goal, while another finding the net was fellow loan arrival Emile Smith Rowe, who grabbed the second goal in a 2-0 win against Macedonia.

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Zirkzee: Finds time and space in 3-2 win against Norway


Sadly, it wasn’t as happy an evening for Boško Šutalo. Although his side won 3-0 away to Ireland, a very impressive result, the 20 year old, on loan from Atalanta, came off after 73 minutes with a lower leg injury.

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International Round-Up: Lee Kang-In impressive again in 5-0 win
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International Round-Up (Part 4)

The second game in the latest round of International fixtures saw the Valencia academy products once again feature heavily in a rousing 6-0 demolition of their Israeli counterparts. Young goalkeeper Andrés Céspedes again featured throughout, where he was barely troubled in goal as Spain dominated the game from start to finish. Club colleague Joseda also played the entire 90 minutes in the clash at his preferred position of right-back, also grabbing an assist. César Tárrega was again in the holding role, but lasted just 6 minutes before coming off injured, while Pedro Alemañ also started, coming off after 75 after also helping set up one of the goals. Hugo González, who came of the bench last time out, started and clocked up just under 70 minutes of action in total. There were appearances from the bench for Cristhian Mosquera, Andrés Garcia, Jésus Vázquez, who was subsequently withdrawn again after picking up a knock, and Alejandro Salas, who came on for the last quarter and also set up a goal for Celta Vigo winger Miguel Rodriguez.

Hugo Guillamón again started for the Under 21 side, who were also in rampant form with a 5-0 win over Kosovo, former Valencia winger Ferran Torres opening the scoring after just 2 minutes of the encounter, in which Spain managed a total of 37 shots in an extremely one-sided affair. Others in Under 21 action were Joshua Zirkzee, who scored the equaliser as the Netherlands fell 3-1 away at England, and Emile Smith Rowe starting for the hosts and picking up a booking in the opening minute.

At full senior level, Gonçalo Guedes once again came off the bench for Portugal, this time ensuring victory for his country as he grabbed the only goal from close range, 64 minutes in, to claim a tight 1-0 victory against Bosnia in the Nations League, the result seeing Portugal stay top in Group 1 with a 100% record from their four games so far.

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Guedes: Close range finish ensures 100% record continues for Portugal


Also in Nations League action was Jasper Cillessen, who again featured throughout for the Netherlands as they fell to a 1-0 defeat away in Italy, Ciro Immobile grabbing the only goal of the game from the spot. Another loser during the latest round of fixtures was José Gayà, who despite featuring throughout could not prevent Spain slipping to a 3-1 defeat against Switzerland, finding themselves 3-1 down before Navas pulled one back in what was a largely poor performance from la selección. Antonio Valencia was present throughout in a1-1 draw away to Venezuela, while Lee Kang-In picked up another man of the match award and assist in a draw away to Syria by the same scoreline. Finally Maxi Gómez could do little from the bench a Uruguay were defeated 2-0 by Paraguay.

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Guedes: Match winner in the Nations League tie against Bosnia
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Valencia continue impressive start

Valencia continued their impressive start to the new season as they made it 5 matches unbeaten with a comfortable 2-0 win against Villarreal on Monday evening. Returning to action after the International break, Barlow made just 2 changes from the side who overcame Cadiz 1-0 a fortnight ago. Fit again Daniel Wass came in at right back for veteran defender Antonio Valencia, while further forward on the right hand side Gonçalo Guedes, who scored the winner for Portugal in the week, came back in, Jason making way. There was also a place on the bench for new arrival Vieirinha. Villarreal handed starts to both Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin on their return to the Mestalla, while former Valencia striker Paco Alcácer also started, having returned to la liga from the Bundesliga in the summer.

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Despite finding themselves 19th in the table, the visitors began on the front foot and almost took a shock lead just 6 minutes in, a speculative ball forward finding Moi Gómez in space just inside the area. His effort beat the outstretched arm of Cillessen, but fired back off the outside of the post, much to the relief of the hosts. 7 minutes later they were made to rue the miss, as Valencia took the lead through Maxi Gómez. Uros Racic released Wass down the right, and when his cross into the area was only half-cleared, Denis Cheryshev swung the ball back in first time on the half volley, where the Uruguayan striker reacted quickest to spring the offside trap and fire home from close range, Villarreal keeper Sergio Asenjo having no chance.

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Maxi Gómez: Sprung the offside to fire in from close range


Hungry for a second, Valencia continued to cause problems down the right as Guedes this time broke free, his shot firing into the side netting with Asenjo left scrambling. Meanwhile, goalscorer Maxi Gómez continued to get the better of the Villarreal defence, first of all firing just wide from just outside the box following an incisive pass from Racic, then heading straight into the grateful arms of Asenjo as he got up above everyone to meet a pinpoint cross from Cheryshev. Minutes later he did have the ball in the net, only to have his celebrations curtailed as VAR ruled out the effort for an initial offside in the build up. Wass looped the ball in from the right, and Maxi Gómez met the ball with power to head beyond Asenjo, but replays show the decision was right as he had dropped back from an offside position before applying the headed finish.

At the other end, the visitors offered little as they struggled to create, Alcácer trying his luck from range just after the half hour mark, but his attempt was straight at Jasper Cillessen in the Valencia goal. Asenjo continued to be the busier of the two before the break, again having to react quickest to pluck the ball out of the air as Maxi Gómez again looked to meet a speculative cross.

The second half began very much in the same vein, when with just minutes gone Asenjo again found his hands stinging, this time denying Carlos Soler from range. Valencia then went closer still, again springing the offside trap of the visitors, who were slow to react as Kevin Gameiro found himself in space, the French striker seeing his shot spring off the post and out for a goal kick when he should have perhaps done better.

Continuing to dominate the game, the returning Wass then made way for Antonio Valencia, while Kevin Gameiro, still reeling from his wasted effort, came off for young striker Joshua Zirkzee. Minutes later, Valencia made a third change, this time skipper José Gayà, who was tiring by this point, being replaced by Eliaquim Mangala. With 10 minutes of normal time still to go, Villarreal keeper Asenjo produced the save of the game, reacting well to tip over from Zirkzee at full stretch to deny the young forward what would have been a spectacular goal.

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Asenjo: At full stretch to deny Joshua Zirkzee from doubling the hosts lead


He was at it again moments later, denying the on-loan striker from the resulting corner, although this time the save was more pedestrian as the Bayern Munich youngster put it too close to the keeper. Heading into stoppage time, and with Villarreal still clinging onto the hope of snatching something, Valencia made their final changes, sending veteran Vieirinha on for his debut, while Smith Rowe also came on, Guedes and Cheryshev making way. The result was put beyond doubt in the final minute, Villarreal falling foul of a classic counter attack. Valencia picked out Uros Racic, who showed superb control to bring the ball down before sending through Maxi Gómez, who once again was first to react, racing clear to make no mistake with a finish low and hard into the bottom corner beyond the largely impressive Asenjo.

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Maxi Gómez: Striker secures win with his second goal deep into stoppage time


The comfortable victory, in which Valencia limited the struggling visitors to just 1 shot on target in the entire game, sees the hosts maintain second place in the league behind the impressive Barcelona. Unsurprisingly Maxi Gómez picked up the honours as he was named man of the match for his evenings work, although the former Celta Vigo man will no doubt be frustrated the VAR ruled out the opportunity for him to claim a hat-trick. Sergio Asenjo picked up the plaudits for the visitors with his performance, although ultimately without reward as the side, under Unai Emery, remain 19th in la liga with just one win so far this season.

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Maxi Gómez: Two goals and a man of the match award for the Uruguayan in the win
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Week 5 in review

Barcelona dropped points for the first time this season as they kicked off Round 5 of the fixtures with a 1-1 draw away at Sevilla on Saturday evening. Despite being the better side for large parts, and taking a first half lead through Ousmane Dembélé, the Catalan giants were unable to press home their advantage before suffering a blow in stoppage time when Marcos Acuña rescued a point for the hosts. Despite the stalemate, Barcelona remain top of the league at present, although they find themselves now level on points with Valencia, with the pair set to square off next weekend at the Camp Nou in what is shaping up to be a title thriller.

Elsewhere, big gainers were Osasuna, who moved up to second temporarily, before Valencia reclaimed the spot in their 2-0 win against Villarreal. 2 first half goals for the Pamplona side were enough to overcome Levante in a 2-1 win, aided by Athletic Bilbao being held at home in the Basque derby draw with Real Sociedad, taking the lead after just 3 minutes before Alexander Isak pegged them back. Real Madrid continued to build on their recent form with a convincing 3-0 win away at Madrid neighbours Getafe, deadline day signing Ángel Di María among the scorers in that one, while fellow Madrid rivals Atlético won 2-1 at home against Celta Vigo.

Huesca remain at the foot of the table with Celta Vigo and Villarreal following a 1-0 defeat at home against Cádiz, while Real Betis dumped more misery on Valladolid with a 2-0 away win. Honours were even as Eibar and Alavés played out a 2-2 draw, Eibar taking a 2-0 lead into the break before the visitors hit back, Lucas drawing them level in the 87th minute. The final game on Sunday evening saw Elche and Granada play out a 0-0 draw, both teams finding themselves fairly even in mid table.

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Barcelona underline superiority with convincing win

League leaders Barcelona handed Valencia their first defeat of the season on Friday evening as they ran out 3-1 winners in the top of the table clash. The pair came into this one at the Camp Nou both undefeated, and occupying first and second spot in the table, Barcelona edging it on goal difference. Visitors Valencia made just one change from their last match, a 2-0 win against Villarreal, as Antonio Valencia came in at right-back, Daniel Wass being moved further forward into a defensive midfield role to provide protection for the back four, with Uros Racic dropping to the bench. That meant a start in goal for Jasper Cillessen against his former side on his return to the Camp Nou.

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Meanwhile, Barcelona were able to name an attacking quartet of Antoine Griezmann, Coutinho, Ousmane Dembélé and captain Lionel Messi as they looked to deliver an early blow in the title race. With ter Stegen injured, it also ironically meant Neto would be facing his former club, the 31 year old Brazilian shot stopper moving to the Catalan giants as a replacement for Cillessen, just a day after his switch to Valencia.

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Barcelona: Neto in to face his former team, with strong attacking quartet up top


Hosts Barcelona enjoyed the perfect start, taking the lead with just 2 minutes gone. Mercurial skipper Lionel Messi laid the ball off for De Jong, who in turn sent Sergi Roberto wide. The full-back did well to get into the box, and his cut back was met perfectly by Messi at the near post for an easy finish, Cillessen having no chance against his former side. Valencia, meanwhile, were reduced to shots from distance, Goncalo Guedes firing well over the bar from range after a cross field run allowed him space and time for the shot.

As the visitors began to grow into the game, Denis Cheryshev did well down the left before slipping in Maxi Gomez, Neto doing well to tip the effort wide with a quarter of an hour gone. A minute later they found themselves level from a set piece. From a free kick far left, Daniel Wass swung in a deep cross, and there was Mouctar Diakhaby, completely unmarked at the back post, to head home with Neto stranded.

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Diakhaby: Heads in equaliser with first goal of season


If anything, rather than giving Valencia renewed hope, the equalizer seemed to spark the home side into life, with Dembélé the first to try his luck, going on a mazy run before his shot was straight into the grateful arms of Cillessen. Minutes later Sergio Busquets chipped a ball over the Valencia back line, finding Coutinho, who shot across goal but Cillessen was able to get a hand to the shot and keep the ball out before the visiting defence then cleared the danger.

The visitors then tried a repeat of the first goal, this time from the opposite side with skipper Jose Gaya swinging in the cross to the far post. Diakhaby was lurking again, but this time Neto was alert to the danger, the Brazilian keeper plucking the ball out of the air. Neto was again called into action on the half hour mark, after neat play from Wass and Guedes released Cheryshev on the left. The Russian winger broke into the box and shot near post, but Neto was again able to parry and prevent any further danger.

A direct free kick from Valencia then gave Daniel Wass another opportunity from a dead ball, this time the stand in defensive midfielder stinging the hands of Neto with his effort, before Barcelona then looked to launch a quick counter, the ball breaking to Dembélé who was lining up to shoot before an excellent block tackle from Gabriel Paulista prevented the danger. Barcelona did reclaim the lead though deep into first half stoppage time, this time Griezmann finding the space on the right, picking up a pass from De Jong, before a cut back allowed Coutinho a simple finish for his first of the season, sending the hosts into the break back in front.

After a fantastic end to end first half, the second half seemed to be played in a far more measured manner, Barcelona keen to keep possession and maintain control of the game, while Valencia could only scrap for half chances. There was little surprise, therefore, when the Catalan side wrapped up the 3 points on the hour mark, a ball from the left finding Griezmann with his back to goal, and his superb reverse ball allowing Sergi Roberto time and space to fire across Cillessen and into the bottom corner. Despite Valencia making several changes, and throwing caution to the wind in a bid to try and haul something back in the game, it proved to be the last real chance of any note, as Barcelona held on to secure a big three points and restore the gap at the top of the table. Barcelona maintain their unbeaten start, moving back 3 points clear at the summit, while skipper Lionel Messi now also finds himself 2 goals clear of Kevin Gameiro, in the race the the pichichi.
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Week 6 in review

Barcelona finish the weekend on top courtesy of their 3-1 victory over 2nd place Valencia on Friday evening in the clash of the weekend. Another massive game the following evening, at the Bernabeu, saw Sevilla triumph 3-2 away to Real Madrid with a Luuk De Jong goal late on earning the visitors 3 points, a result which sees them leapfrog the current holders to move up to 5th in la liga. Eden Hazard struck twice for Madrid in the defeat, while former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic also hit a double as Sevilla hit back in a thrilling encounter, before De Jong’s late strike.

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Osasuna continued their good form with a 2-2 draw away at Real Betis, and perhaps they were unlucky not to get more after racing into a 2-0 lead within 18 minutes before the hosts hit back. It was one of four draws on Sunday, as Celta Vigo v Athletic Bilbao and Cadiz v Elche both drew a blank, while Alavés and Getafe played out a 1-1 draw. Real Sociedad enjoyed a narrow 1-0 victory against Eibar, Mikel Merino with the only goal in that one, while Valladolid came back from 1-0 down inside 2 minutes to take all 3 points with a 3-1 win away in Valencia against Levante.

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The final action of the weekend came on Monday evening, with Huesca hauling themselves out of the relegation zone, and dumping Villarreal rock bottom, with a 2-0 victory. Former Leicester City striker and Premier League winner Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring, before another former Premier League player, ex-Everton attacker Sandro, secured the win, both goals coming in the first half. Villarreal now find themselves rooted to the foot of the table with just 2 points so far, with former Arsenal manager Unai Emery now under increased pressure to turn the fortunes around.

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Vigo slump to defeat against Valencia

Celta Vigo find themselves rooted to the foot of the table following a 1-0 defeat against Valencia at the weekend. The Galician side hosted the side in 2nd place, hoping to get their first win of the season, but offered little in a game in which they were clearly overrun by the visitors, who will be frustrated to have not won by a higher margin. The hosts named Jeison Murillo in the starting line-up against his former club, while also being able to call on the experienced pair of Iago Aspas and Nolito up front. Up front for the visitors were Kevin Gameiro and former Celta striker Maxi Gomez, keen to make an impact against his former club. Valencia made just one change to the starting XI, Daniel Wass reverting to right-back and Uros Racic returning to the starting XI. There was also a change on the bench, with reserve keeper Cristian Rivero called up to deputize for the injured Jaume Doménech.

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There was no surprise, given their relative league positions, when the visitors were quickest out of the blocks, going close early on after great interplay between Wass and Guedes eventually found the returning Racic in space, his shot eventually going over. The hosts then had keeper Rubén Blanco to thank, producing a fine save on the stretch to deny Denis Cheryshev with a quarter of an hour gone, the Russian winger rising well to meet a Guedes cross at the far post. As Valencia continued to press, next to go close was Mouctar Diakhaby, the centre half who grabbed the equaliser last week against Barcelona heading just over from a similar angle from a Gaya corner.

At the other end, Celta had their first chance of note in the 23rd minute, a deep cross finding Nolito at the far post, but he too headed over the bar. Valencia continued to work Rubén Blanco, although he had little to do when Soler fired his low effort straight at the keeper with half an hour on the clock, and the visitors clearly in the ascendancy. Valencia then rattled the woodwork twice in close succession before the break, first when Racic fed through Gameiro, the striker frustrated to see his effort beat the keeper but come back off the inside of the post, before Carlos Soler then rattled the crossbar from range with Rubén Blanco well beaten, Celta somehow surviving the first half level.

The second half began in similar style, Valencia again dominating the ball and creating the opportunities, a last ditch tackle taking the ball off the feet of Racic after he was slid in by Guedes. The deadlock was finally broken 10 minutes in the second half, ironically as the result of a rare Celta attack. Jose Gaya produced a superb tackle to take the ball off Aspas, and when he then found Cheryshev down the left, the winger found the time and space to carry the ball forward. A simple pass through then found Maxi Gómez, who had lost his marker Murillo, before applying a confident finish into the bottom corner against his old side.

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Maxi Gómez: Broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half


Maxi Gomez then almost turned provider, breaking down the right and hanging in a cross which was again met by Cheryshev, who continually got the better of the Celta back line in the air, but his header flashed just wide with Rubén Blanco at full stretch. The visitors then rang in the changes, with Lee Kang-In coming on for the impressive Guedes, who appeared to have picked up a slight knock, while Daniel Sturridge came on for his debut to replace Gameiro, and Smith Rowe came on for Cheryshev. Celta almost had a chance to snatch an equaliser with 5 minutes remaining as Nolito found space on the right, but he failed to trouble Cillessen with his eventual effort. At the other end, Sturridge, making his first appearance since signing, did well to beat a man before his cut back found fellow substitute Lee Kang-In, who again forced a smart save from Rubén Blanco. The home keeper, probably the busiest man on the pitch, was called on once more in stoppage time to spare his sides blushes, this time stopping another Carlos Soler effort, with Celta truly beaten, despite the narrow scoreline. The Galician side now site rock bottom in la liga, with just two points from 7 games. The visitors, meanwhile, remain second continuing their impressive start to the season.

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Maxi Gómez: Winning goal and MOTM performance against former side
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Week 7 in review

Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao played out a 1-1 draw as the latest round of fixtures got under way, a result which sees Bilbao finish the weekend in 4th. The following evening, Alavés chalked up another impressive result as they beat Atlético Madrid 1-0 in the early kick-off on Saturday. The visitors were forced to play the majority of the game with just 10 men after Felipe was sent off just 19 minutes in, former Blackburn Rovers striker Ruben Rochina grabbing the only goal of the game. Cross city rivals and current holders Real Madrid faired better, as they brushed aside the in-form Osasuna 3-0 at the Bernabéu , another double from Eden Hazard easing them to victory and 3rd place in the table, behind Valencia who returned to winning ways away to Celta Vigo.

Barcelona remained top with another emphatic performance, this time Elche the side on the end of a 4-0 defeat. Barcelona were 3-0 up at the break, with Antoine Griezmann again underlining his form with two more goals for the league leaders. Villarreal grabbed their first win of the season with a 3-2 victory over Eibar at midday, on loan Valencia midfielder Manu Vallejo opening the scoring for the hosts, before a double from another former Valencia man, Paco Alcácer, gave Unai Emery’s side their first 3 points, which was enough to lift them out of the relegation zone, Eibar dropping into the bottom 3.

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Granada moved up to 8th with a 2-0 victory over Valladolid, while Real Sociedad enjoyed a home victory against Getafe by the same score line. The other result of the day saw Cádiz and Sevilla play out a goalless draw, whilst it was honours even and another deadlock again the following evening when Levante hosted Huesca in the final game of the weekend, Valencian side Levante still finding themselves in the bottom three.

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Valencia in cruise control against Huesca

Valencia looked every bit potential top four contenders as they brushed aside Huesca with relative ease on Sunday evening. Valencia came into this one with pretty much a clean bill of health, rookie manager Barlow opting to go with the same starting XI who were winners last time out against Celta Vigo. Newly promoted Huesca opted for a cautious approach, with former Everton forward Sandro leading the line on his own.

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Hosts Valencia started with real intent, creating an opportunity in the first minute as Uros Racic carried the ball from deep before finding Goncalo Guedes, the Portuguese winger flashing his shot just wide from distance. As the home side continued to press, they were to go close again from range when a Wass corner was initially punched clear by the Huesca goalkeeper, before Carlos Soler picked up the loose ball and fired wide. There was no surprise when the pressure eventually paid off, Valencia taking the lead 16 minutes in. A throw-in on the right was well held up by Guedes, who then sent Gameiro free into the box. The French striker showed great intelligence in looking up to spot Maxi Gómez, who had peeled off his marker in the middle, providing a perfect ball to give the Uruguayan striker the easiest of finishes from close range.

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Maxi Gómez: Easy finish from close range after pinpoint pass from Gameiro


The goal seemed to only galvanise the hosts, who continued to push in search of a second, Soler picking out Gameiro but the striker firing wide. The home side were then dealt a blow when winger Denis Cheryshev was forced to withdraw after 20 minutes, the Russian appearing to suffer an ankle injury, being replaced by youngster Emile Smith Rowe. Carlos Soler continued to enjoy freedom in the middle of the park, carrying the ball forward again just after the half hour mark, his cut back being dragged just wide by loanee Smith Rowe.

Valencia doubled their advantage just before the break, Carlos Soler again causing the problems as he was the architect, with an inch perfect through ball into the path of the Kevin Gameiro, who made no mistake this time to claim his 6th goal of the season and give Valencia a 2-0 lead at half-time.

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Gameiro: Fine finish from outside box after perfect through ball from Soler


The second half began with Huesca registering their first real opportunity of note, lone striker Sandro trying from range but in the end his effort lacked any real pace to trouble Jasper Cillessen, who had been having a really quiet game up to that point. On the hour, hosts Valencia suffered their second injury blow of the evening, this time Goncalo Guedes taking a knock on the shin, winger Jason being sent on in his place down the right hand side. It was the substitute himself who had the next opportunity of note, firing wildly over from the edge of the area after both Gameiro and Maxi Gómez had seen efforts blocked as Valencia continued to create.

Fellow substitute Emile Smith Rowe then went close again, this time the Arsenal loanee clipping the top of the bar from range after a lay off from Maxi Gómez, who had initially been picked out by the influential Soler. Valencia then made further changes, as Daniel Wass and skipper Gaya were replaced by Bosko Sutalo and Vieirinha at the back. Just a minute later, Valencia wrapped up the result with the best move of the match. Racic laid the ball wide to Jason, who took a touch before returning the ball, Racic then picking out fellow midfield man Carlos Soler, who was quick to lay off the ball to goalscorer Kevin Gameiro just inside the box. The striker provided a superb forward flick into the path of fellow front man Maxi Gómez, who was again gifted an easy goal with the keeper completely wrong footed.

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Maxi Gómez: Put on a plate for second of the game


Valencia, despite being comfortably 3-0 up, were forced to see out the game with just 10 men after Gabriel Paulista appeared to pull up with a hamstring issue. With no substitutes left to make, Barlow reshuffled at the back in an attempt to see out the game, although the visitors did have one great opportunity as Borja García picked out Okazaki, but his chance was superbly saved by Cillessen. After the victory, which sees Valencia remain second, it was confirmed Cheryshev would be out for a few weeks with pulled ankle ligaments, although fortunately the knock to Guedes and hamstring issue for Gabriel Paulista seem far less severe.

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Maxi Gómez: 2 goals and man of the match performance from Uruguayan striker
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Week 8 in review

Osasuna continued their fantastic start to the season with a 3-0 win away against Alavés on Friday evening, as week 8 got underway. Los Rojillos were 2-0 up by half time, thanks to goals from Nacho Vidal and Oier, before a Roberto Torres goal in the second half ensured the visitors registered their 4th win of the season.

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The Sunday lunchtime game saw hosts Granada just edge out Getafe in a 3-2 thriller, in a match which saw all five goals coming in an action packed first half. Next into action were Cádiz, who crashed 4-0 at home against Real Sociedad, with in form Alex Isak grabbing 2 for the visitors, who currently sit 5th in the table. The biggest game of the day was undoubtedly the Madrid derby, which hosts Real Madrid triumphed 2-0 against neighbours Atlético, with Eden Hazard and Toni Kroos doing the damage before Luka Modric was then sent off in the closing stages. Former Chelsea star Hazard now has 5 goals from 7 games so far this season for the current league holders. Eibar dropped to the foot of the table after finding themselves 2-0 down at home to Real Betis after just 20 minutes, eventually losing 2-1, while Celta Vigo won away at Elche by the same scoreline, coming back from 1 down after 5 minutes to record their first win to haul themselves off bottom spot, leapfrogging Eibar.

Lucas Ocampos scored the only goal of the game as Sevilla beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, while the matches between Valladolid v Barcelona, and Villarreal v Levante both ended goalless. The result for Barcelona means they now sit just one point clear again at the top of the table, with the impressive Valencia once again hot on their heels after their 3-0 home win against Huesca, while Real Madrid sit in third courtesy of goals, sitting on level points with the overperforming Osasuna.

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International Round-Up (Part 5)

It was a familiar tale during the latest International break, as Lee Kang-In once again proved to be one of the stand out performers. The 19 year old, who has made just four substitute appearances for the first team so far this season, was the stand out player as his South Korean side smashed Kuwait 7-0 in the Asian World Cup qualification tie. Starting on the right of a 3 pronged attacking midfield, the youngster opened the scoring from the spot just 9 minutes in, before grabbing another and setting one up in the second half. Spurs forward Son Heung-Min also grabbed a hat-trick in the rout, just edging Lee Kang-In for the man of the match award.

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Kang-In: Ruthless attacking display from Valencia youngster


With Valencia once again featuring in numbers for the Spanish Under-19 squad, the stand out performer was undoubtedly Andrés Garcia, who scored twice in a 2-0 win against Finland, picking up the man of the match award in a comfortable victory. He was joined in the starting XI for the clash away in Helsinki by Andrés Céspedes and Dani Montes. Martín Tejón, Ismael Escobar, and David Ruiz all came off the bench in the win. The Spanish Under-21 side made similar light work with their Finish counterparts, going 1 better in a 4-0 win, 2 for former Valencia winger Ferran Torres in the win. Hugo Guillamón had a comfortable game at the back before being substituted just after the hour in the win.

Thierry Correia started in a 5-2 win for Portugal under-21’s against their Czech counterparts, putting in a solid performance at left back during a 68 minute appearance, while Uros Racic featured for 74 minutes in a 3-3 draw against France at the same level. Boško Šutalo played for an hour in a very easy 4-0 win against Latvia, while Smith Rowe was an unused substitute as England Under-21’s won 3-0 in Greece.

At senior level, Yunus Musah earned his second full cap for the national team, coming off the bench as his United States team were easily defeated 3-0 in a friendly away to Iceland. Antonio Valencia again played the full game as his Ecuador side were beaten 1-0 by Argentina in a World cup qualifier, former Valencia centre-half Nicolás Otamendi with the only goal. In another South American qualification match, the in-form Maxi Gómez came off the bench to score an 88th minute winner in a 3-2 victory against Peru, the 24 year old who scored twice at the weekend only featuring for 9 minutes, but ensuring a vital 3 points for his country.

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Maxi Gómez: Came off the bench to head home 88th minute winner for Uruguay


Gonçalo Guedes had little impact, managing just 10 minutes from the bench as his side crashed to a 3-0 defeat against France, their first defeat in the Nations League, while Jasper Cillessen was on the winning side as the Netherlands won 2-1 in their Nations League clash against Sweden, coming from 1-0 down, Strootman and Weghorst with the goals. Finally, Daniel Wass and José Gayà went head to head in the Group 4 clash, Denmark having triumphed the first time the pair met, but this time suffering a 3-0 defeat. Wass played most of the game, while Gaya came on for 10 minute cameo at the end, Isco and Marco Asensio doing the damage for Spain.

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Kang-In: Dominant performance the stand out of the International window
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Good start to the season mate with Valencia; if you can overcome Barca and Real then this title can be yours.
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International round-up (Part 6)

Valencia were dealt a massive blow during the latest round of International games, as in form youngster Lee Kang-In suffered a torn hamstring in a 2-1 win against China. Starting again after his impressive 2 goal haul in the previous game, he helped his side into a 2-0 lead before picking up the injury, after 32 minutes, which could potentially now keep him out of action for 2 months. China pulled one back, but Korea held on for the win, which sees them finish top of the group on goal difference in the Asian World Cup qualifications. Experienced defender Antonio Valencia was once again in action for the full game, as Ecuador were beaten 3-2 away to Paraguay in their South American world cup qualifier. Ecuador are unable to qualify, while the win for Paraguay sees them edge into 5th spot, and a potential play-off berth, for Qatar 2022.

Other qualifiers include Argentina, who won the group, and Brazil, who drew 0-0 in their final qualification game against Uruguay, who also qualify in 4th. Maxi Gómez again came off the bench but was unable to repeat his heroics from the previous game in this stalemate. Daniel Wass came on as a late substitute for Denmark in a 2-0 win against Switzerland. The Danes did superbly well to top Group 4 in the Nations League, a result which sees Spain miss out on the finals. Spain needed a win and Denmark to drop points, but in the end they were only able to manage a 1-1 draw with Belgium in their final game, irrespective of the result in Bern. José Gayà played 88 minutes in the tie, which saw Real Madrid team mates Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio both score for their respective countries in the clash in Brussels.

Jasper Cillessen was on the losing side as the Netherlands fell to defeat against England in their final group game, a late Harry Kane goal at the Johan Cruyff arena enough for the visitors to win the game and the group. Portugal will also be heading to the finals after a 2-1 victory over Iceland in their final match saw them top the group, Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the winner as the visitors came back from 1-0 down in Reykjavik to grab the win. Valencia winger Gonçalo Guedes came on for the final 18 minutes of that one.

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Kang-In: Suffered torn hamstring as Korea beat China to top group
siepod
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Good start to the season mate with Valencia; if you can overcome Barca and Real then this title can be yours.


Cheers! Genuinely shocked and surprised by how well I've started, my preferred tactic seems to suit my players so well so far and taking real time and concentration throughout the new game really seems to be paying dividends... Barcelona and Real Madrid both seem relentless, scoring goals and buying players for fun. Barcelona already handed me a lesson, and suspect the lack of depth (and funds) will prove my eventual undoing in giving them a real challenge, but the longer I can hang on in there at the top the better, especially to convince some of our better players to stick around too (Gaya for example)
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Valencia move top with late winner

A late Kevin Gameiro penalty saw Valencia move top of La Liga, following a hard fought 2-1 victory in an end to end clash with Granada at the Mestalla. The visitors came into this one on the back of 3 draws and 2 wins which in their last five games, form which saw them currently 5th in the form table and sitting 8th in the league. Unsurprisingly, Valencia named an unchanged side from their victory over Huesca, with Denis Cheryshev being passed fit to start despite suffering an injury during the international break. There were a few changes on the bench, however, with Thierry Correia, Yunus Musah and Álex Blanco all coming in, while Jaume Doménech was fit again to return as back-up keeper.

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Granada looked to carry their impressive recent form into the game, almost taking an early lead when they went close 11 minutes in. Fede Vico fed the ball forward for Antonio Puertas, and his effort hit the outside of the post before going wide. 2 minutes later Valencia were awarded a free kick wide left after Maxi Gómez was brought down. Daniel Wass swung the ball into the penalty box, met by Uros Racic with a glancing header just wide. Another Wass free kick after 20 minutes again caused problems, Granada half clearing and Diakhaby clipping the ball back in, where Maxi Gómez should have done better with his free header, failing to trouble the keeper as he headed over the bar.

Minutes later Kevin Gameiro was next to test Granada keeper Rui Silva. Gonçalo Guedes won the ball before driving forward on the right. After originally losing the ball, the Portuguese winger got a second chance, and his cross found Gameiro, who shot across goal but Rui Silva tipped wide, before claiming the resulting corner with ease. At the other end, Luis Suárez went close after a long ball over the top found the Colombian striker in space, his shot dragged just wide. 5 minutes before the break, Suárez broke again but this time Jasper Cillessen made a good save to deny the striker.

After the break, Valencia made several changes, firstly Cheryshev, still returning to full fitness, being replaced by Emile Smith Rowe, before just after the hour mark José Gayà and Uros Racic also made way, Thierry Correia and Yunus Musah coming on. Substitute Musah almost made an immediate impact, winning the ball in the middle before picking out Wass out wide, the full back delivering another great cross which Maxi Gómez headed just over, before Luis Suárez flashed a shot wide at the other end as both sides continued to push for the breakthrough.

The breakthrough eventually came in the 73rd minute, Gonçalo Guedes making a mazy run down the right before being halted by Fede Vico. Wass picked up the loose ball, drilling a low cross into the box, where Kevin Gameiro reacted first at the near post to fire home from close range to give the hosts a late lead.

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Gameiro: Reacts quickest to break the deadlock


Just 6 minutes later both sides were level as Granada grabbed the equaliser through the largely impressive Luis Suárez. The hosts lost the ball in midfield, and Fede Vico took advantage, slipping through Luis Suárez who finished with aplomb under the onrushing Cillessen. The visitors then thought they’d snatched the lead, Luis Milla this time picking out Suárez, but the linesman quick to put up his flag, VAR confirming the Colombian had strayed just offside before providing the finish.

With both sides once again searching a winner, Valencia were next to go close again, Guedes again looking lively on the right, and while Maxi Gómez saw his shot blocked, substitute Smith Rowe was onto the loose ball, his effort hitting the woodwork before spinning wide. With the referee indicating 5 minutes additional time, Valencia were then handed the opportunity to snatch all 3 points deep into stoppage time. An inswinging corner was half cleared by Granada, but with Valencia centre half Gabriel Paulista indicating he had been pushed, a subsequent VAR check saw the penalty awarded. With just 2 minutes to go, Kevin Gameiro confidently stepped up to fire home his second of the game, firing low and hard to into the bottom right hand corner despite the keeper guessing the right way.

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No push-over: VAR check awards late penalty to Valencia as Gabriel Paulista fouled in box

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Gameiro: Confidently fires home despite Rui Silva guessing right way


There was still time for even more late drama, and Granada thought they had once again pulled themselves level and snatched a point, but Luis Suárez was once again denied by the offside flag, although this one was far more clear cut than the earlier goal he saw chalked off, as Valencia clung on for a massive 3 points which sees them take top spot after Barcelona stuttered earlier in the weekend. The double strike from Gameiro also sees him move back above Lionel Messi in the race for the golden boot, the former PSG striker now on 8 for the season.

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Gameiro: Man of the match in game where Luis Suárez had 2 ruled out
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Week 9 in review

Barcelona found themselves off top spot for the first time this season as they threw away a 1-0 lead away at Getafe to draw their 3rd game this season. The visitors were forced to play the majority of the match with just 10 men after Junior Firpo was sent off just 17 minutes in. Despite this, the league leaders took a lead 1 minute into the second half, Samuel Umtiti popping up with a rare goal, but Getafe were able to haul themselves level inside the final 10 minutes thanks to the first goal of the season from striker Jaime Mata. The latest round of fixtures had begun earlier on Saturday evening as Sevilla and Alavés played out a goalless draw in the early kick off, Sevilla currently 6th in the league.

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The early kick-off on Sunday saw Athletic Bilbao triumph with a 2-1 win over Levante at midday. Villarreal then secured their second win of the season as they won 2-1 away at Elche. Despite being behind after just 5 minutes, on loan Valencia attacker Manu Vallejo pulled the visitors level 22 minutes in, before then turning provider for another former Valencia team-mate Francis Coquelin to grab the winner.

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Manu Vallejo: Impressive start to life at Villarreal


Cádiz fell to another defeat on the road as they were beaten 2-0 by Valladolid, who remain mid table, just ahead of Atlético Madrid, who needed a Luis Suárez penalty to ensure a 1-0 win at home against Real Betis. Cross city rivals Real Madrid remain 3rd after a 3-2 win against Eibar, in a game in which they found themselves race into a 3-0 lead before then being put under late pressure by Eibar, Di Maria again on target, with 2 goals and 4 assists now since his return to the club. The final game on Sunday was a goal frenzy at El Alcoraz, the impressive Real Sociedad hitting hosts Huesca for 5. Alex Isak continued his fine form this season, opening the scoring with his 6th goal of the season in the 6th minute, with Mikel Oyarzabal completing the rout.

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Saving the best to last, the final game of the weekend on Monday evening saw Osasuna victorious in a 5-2 thriller as they hosted Celta Vigo. The visitors had taken an early lead before Jony pulled the hosts level, one of his 2 goals of the evening. The impressive attacking display sees Osasuna continue to surpass expectation, sitting 4th in the table.

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Meanwhile, in the Segunda B Valencia loanee Rodri continues to impressive for Melilla, although he couldn’t prevent his side falling to a 4-3 defeat in their latest game. The 20 year old, who arrived at Valencia from Betis this season, attempted to haul his side back into the game with an assist, before grabbing 2 late goals himself in the slender defeat.

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Valencia rue late penalty miss

Valencia missed the chance to cement their lead at the top of La Liga on Sunday evening as a late penalty miss saw them held to a 1-1 draw away at Osasuna despite being the better team on the occassion. With Barcelona not in action, Valencia, who currently sit top, came into this game hoping to continue their impressive form against a team who have been equally impressive this season, finding themselves in 4th. Denis Cheryshev was passed fit to start for the visitors, while the only change saw young signing Janni Serra come onto the bench in the place of the injured Daniel Sturridge.

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Osasuna came into the game off the back of a 5-2 win at home against Celta Vigo last time out, while Valencia also found the target twice in their 2-1 victory over Granada, but the first 10 minutes of the encounter saw neither team able to create anything of note, the first chance coming for the visitors eventually, 11 minutes in. A deep looping free kick from Daniel Wass was knocked down by Uros Racic just inside the box, but when centre-half Mouctar Diakhaby swivelled to try and get a shot away, the shot was blocked then cleared by Osasuna skipper Oier.

The visitors eventually made a breakthrough just after the half hour mark, although some questions will be raised as to the hand home keeper Rubén played in the goal. A thrown-in on the left was picked up by Maxi Gómez, who in turn laid the ball infield for Racic in space. The midfielder looked for space, finding Gonçalo Guedes on the wing, the Portuguese winger taking just a touch before firing a shot in on goal from an acute angle. Despite being well positioned, keeper Rubén could only parry the effort against the inside of the post, giving Valencia a deserved lead.

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Gonçalo Guedes: Opened the scoring after Rubén failed to keep out his long range effort


Unsurprisingly, after the break the hosts came out looking for an immediate response, and way back into the game, enjoying a large spell of possession in the opening minutes of the second period, the visitors defence, well marshalled by skipper José Gayà, holding firm against several waves of attack before eventually clearing the danger. Valencia then sent on Mangala at the back in place of Gabriel Paulista before almost grabbing a second in the 68th minute. Another Wass set piece causing problems, this time a corner, only being half-cleared to Cheryshev, who laid off for Carlos Soler in space, the midfielder seeing his long range effort well tipped over by Rubén before the keeper then claimed the second corner.

At the other end, Jasper Cillessen was then called upon when a counter attack from a Valencia corner eventually found Chimy Ávila in space, the forward going on a mazy run before testing Cillessen with his effort, the former Barcelona keeper equal to the challenge. 3 minutes later, the hosts found themselves level from a similarly positioned throw in as Valencia had utlised to such great effect in the first half. The set play found Jonathan Calleri, who knocked the ball on for Jony. The Lazio loanee was quick to move the ball on to Chimy Ávila, the Argentine forward this time having the time and space in the middle to fire in the corner, Cillessen having no chance.

Valencia continued to press as they looked to reclaim the lead, enjoying better chances than their hosts, throwing on Smith Rowe, Correia and Zirkzee as they looked to inject fresh pace into their attack. The move almost paid off when in the 86th minute Joshua Zirkzee was pushed inside the area when trying to get on the end of another Wass free-kick. A quick VAR check confirmed the penalty, and with usual taker Kevin Gameiro having recently made way for Zirkzee, fellow striker Maxi Gómez was given the responsibility. The Uruguayan striker sent the keeper the wrong way but could only watch on in horror as his effort clipped the outside of the post before going wide, spurning a great opportunity to secure a vital 3 points for his side.

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Maxi Gómez: Sends keeper the wrong way but spot kick wide of the mark


The visitors still had time to forge another couple of opportunities, first off goalscorer Guedes doing well to cut inside before firing across goal, his attempt this time well held by home keeper Rubén. Moments later Racic found substitute Correia out wide, who in turn cut the ball back for fellow substitute Zirkzee. The forward, on loan from Bayern Munich, directed an effort goalwards but his shot was well blocked by the hosts, who held on to secure a point that sees them stay 4th in the table, with Valencia still top but disappointed not to be leaving with a victory from El Sadar.

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José Gayà: Skipper won man of the match despite picking up a knock


Valencia confirmed after the game that both José Gayà and Portuguese winger Gonçalo Guedes had picked up slight knocks, both set to be out for up to a week, although hopefully fit for the clash against Getafe next weekend.

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Week 10 in review

Valencia remain top of the league despite being held to a 1-1 draw against Osasuna. Uruguayan striker Maxi Gómez late penalty miss saw the current leaders miss out on all three points, but with Barcelona not in action this weekend the draw was enough to see them move 2 points clear at the top, Osasuna remaining 4th after the draw.

The weekend began as Atlético Madrid needed a Yannick Carrasco strike to secure a slender 1-0 win at home to Valladolid on Friday evening before rivals Real Madrid got Sunday’s action off to a flyer with a 4-0 rout away at Huesca, who find themselves firmly rooted in the bottom 3. Next up in action were Athletic Bilbao, who handed Villarreal their first defeat in 8 games thanks to goals from both Raúl and Dani García in the second half.

Real Betis sit 8th after a 1-0 win over Cádiz, while Levante and Alavés played out a 1-1 draw, Valencian side Levante still finding themselves in the bottom 3. The final game on Sunday saw Elche score deep in injury time through Gonzalo Verdú to secure a vital 3 points away against Getafe, the win seeing Elche move above them in the table.

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Week 10 ended on Monday evening as Celta Vigo handed Eibar another defeat to keep them bottom of the table. A Santi Mina goal in the first half saw the Basque side suffering their 7th defeat of the season, finding themselves with just 5 points on the board after 10 games.

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Injury blow for Racic as Valencia return to winning ways

Valencia returned to winning ways on Sunday evening after a comfortable 2-0 win against Getafe was enough to see them back to the top of the table. With Barcelona having won earlier in the evening, Valencia knew they needed a result to reclaim top spot, especially given the points they dropped last week with a late penalty miss in their 1-1 draw against the impressive Osasuna. With both José Gayà and Gonçalo Guedes being declared fit after slight knocks last weekend, new Valencia boss Sie Barlow named an unchanged side for this one.

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The hosts started on the front foot, forging an opportunity after just 6 minutes. Some smart pressing in midfield from Racic led to a loose ball being picked up by Denis Cheryshev, the Russian winger breaking down the left before his shot across goal was well saved by David Soria, who tipped the effort away to his left. The home side went even closer 10 minutes later as they rattled the woodwork. Racic won the ball in midfield, and his lay off allowed Carlos Soler to release Kevin Gameiro, the French striker finding the space and beating the keeper only to see his effort spring back off the inside of the post before being cleared to safety.

Soler was again the architect 23 minutes in, this time a looped pass over the top picking out Maxi Gómez, the striker firing too close to Soria, allowing the keeper to make the save. 3 minutes later he was presented another opportunity, Racic this time the provider, but pulling his shot just wide as he looked to make amends for his penalty miss last time out. On the half hour, Getafe finally created a chance of note, a lofted pass over the top finding Cucurella, his lopped effort drifting just wide of the upright, while Jaime Mata was then played through, forcing a smart save from Cillessen, the hosts not having it all their own way as it remained all square at the break.

Minutes into the 2nd half, Vieirinha was sent on in place of Guedes, the Portuguese winger picking up a knock for the second game running. The substitute was then the next to go close, a Cheryshev cross half-cleared, before Soler and Racic combined to pick out Vieirinha in space, the veterans effort parried away well by Soria. 4 minutes later the breakthrough eventually did come following another spell of pressure from the home side. Wass and Gameiro combined on the right, and when the striker’s cross was initially too deep, skipper José Gayà was on hand to pick up the loose ball on the other wing. He eventually found Cheryshev just inside the box, before receiving the ball back and producing a telling cross which was equally well met by Maxi Gómez on the volley, his 7th goal of the season, to give Valencia a well deserved lead.

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Maxi Gómez: Striker fires Valencia into lead with volley in 57th minute


Both Gómez and Valencia almost doubled the advantage 6 minutes later, when another ball over the top exposed the visitors defence, this time though Soria, who was having a great game, producing another save. Moments later, the lead was doubled, this time the Uruguayan striker turning provider as he knocked the ball on for Cheryshev, who in turn produced a wonderful pinpoint cross for Kevin Gameiro, who made no mistake with a free header from 6 yards out.

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Gameiro: Doubles lead after sublime cross from Cheryshev


With Valencia in cruise control, they were dealt a blow in the 71st minute when impressive midfielder Uros Racic went down under a heavy tackle, the Serbian appearing to suffer a knee injury as he was stretchered off, with Yunus Musah sent on in his place, Thierry Correia and Antonio Valencia also being sent on for a run out as the hosts looked to play out the win and secure the 3 points.

Late on Getafe suffered their final blow as Victor Mollejo was shown a straight red card for a wild challenge on substitute Antonio Valencia, the referee in no hesitation before producing the card. After the game it was confirmed that Racic had suffered sprained knee ligaments, and could be out for around 5-6 weeks. Fortunately it was better news for Gonçalo Guedes, who has only suffered a bruised thigh which could see him out of action for just a few days. The win sees Valencia leapfrog back above Barcelona into top spot, having now managed 5 games unbeaten since their defeat against the Catalan giants.

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Soria: Getafe keeper named man of the match after fine display for visitors
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Week 11 in review

Huesca climbed out of the bottom three on Friday evening as they managed a 1-0 win on the road against Elche, Jaime Seoane scoring the only goal of the game just after the break to hand them only their second win of the season.

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Sunday's programme of fixtures began with midtable Granada winning 2-0 as they hosted Athletic Bilbao, while Real Sociedad moved into the European qualification spots thanks to another goal from the in-form Alex Isak as they won 1-0 away at Valladolid.

The main game of the day was undoubtedly the Sevilla derby, where Real Betis thumped their neighbours 5-1 in a thrilling attacking display, Sevilla having the further indignity of finishing the game with just 10 men after Diego Carlos was sent off 78 minutes in, although by that point the damage had largely been done with the visitors already leading 3-1 at the time.

There were also goals aplenty in the 7 PM kick-offs, most notably at the Ipurua where visitors Atlético Madrid claimed a 5-3 win in an eight goal thriller against Eibar, Ángel Correa grabbing a hat-trick for the away side, his final goal and a late strike from Yannick Carrasco at the death ensuring the visitors left with all 3 points. Barcelona temporarily returned to top spot with a comfortable 3-0 win away against Cádiz, while Real Madrid also temporarily moved up a spot with their 4-0 win at home against Levante, Eden Hazard helping himself to another 2 goals as the reigning champions temporarily moved 2nd.

A solitary Raúl Albiol goal was enough to secure the win for Villarreal, ending the impressive form of Osasuna, while Alavés and Celta Vigo played out a 2-2 draw in their mid table clash. The late game saw Valencia return to top spot with their comfortable 2-0 win at home to Getafe, who ended the game with 10 men after Victor Mollejo was sent marching for a dangerous tackle late on.

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Vallejo hits 5 in cup rout

On-loan Villarreal forward Manu Vallejo was undoubtedly the star of the show in the first round of the Copa Del Rey, as he helped himself to 5 goals for his new side in a 9-0 drubbing of San Isidro. The 23 year old, on loan for the season with a potential permanent move on the cards, grabbed his first 18 minutes in with his side already 2-0 in front, opening the scoring in the first minute of the match. He added another two before the break, including one from the spot, as visitors Villarreal found themselves 5-0 up at the break against the semi-professional side. The second half was a similar affair, with 2 more from Manu Vallejo, who found himself out of favour at league leaders Valencia before agreeing the switch to El Submarino Amarillo, before Carlos Bacca completed the demolition with another penalty late on.

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Manu Vallejo: Perfect 10 from the inside forward


Hat-tricks from both Borja Bastón and Juan Muñoz saw fellow la liga side Leganés also cruise into the second round, the unfortunate Totana the victims in this game, eventually crashing to a 7-0 defeat. There were few shocks in the first round, with all the favourites going through, many with convincing victories including a 5-0 win for Eibar, and 4-0 victories for Granada, Valladolid, Sevilla and Getafe among others. The biggest shock was probably the slender 1-0 victory for semi-pro Urraca against Segunda Division B side San Fernando.

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Manu Vallejo: Continues to impress in loan spell at Villarreal
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Valencia underline credentials with impressive win

League leaders Valencia undoubtedly underlined their credentials for European football with a fantastic attacking display in a 4-0 away victory against Real Sociedad. The hosts were themselves also in good form coming into this one, sitting 4th in the table pre-game. Sociedad found themselves without injured winger Adnan Januzaj, currently out with an ankle ligament injury, while Willian José was only fit enough for the bench after suffering ankle problems himself. Visitors Valencia were without key midfielder Uros Racic, set to miss the next 5 weeks with a knee injury, former Arsenal youngster Yunus Musah being given the nod to start in an otherwise unchanged line-up.

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In a first half of few chances, Valencia somehow found themselves taking a massive 2-0 lead into the break. The first goal came 18 minutes into the clash, Daniel Wass finding Gameiro with the throw-in before receiving the ball back to send Gonçalo Guedes in space. The winger looked up to pick out Kevin Gameiro, who had drifted into the box, where the former PSG striker was able to cut inside and find the angle to fire beyond Remiro with a superb finish for his 10th goal of the season.

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Gameiro: Worked ball into space before firing beyond Remiro for 10th of season


A minute before the break Valencia found their lead doubled, another throw-in causing issues for the hosts, this time from the other side. Skipper José Gayà found Cheryshev with a precise throw-in, the winger then laying the ball off for midfield man Carlos Soler, whose cross into the danger area was superbly met by Kevin Gameiro with the left-foot volley to claim his second of the game and give the visitors a massive advantage to take into half-time.

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Gameiro: Close range volley to claim his second of the game


Valencia started the second half in the same attacking vein, going close just 2 minutes after the break. A deep free-kick from Carlos Soler, looking for his second assist of the game, was met by Mouctar Diakhaby at the back post, but the centre-half saw his powerful header fly just over the bar with Remiro left stretching. There was little the keeper could have done minutes later when Soler himself was this time on the end of a cross from Wass, after neat wing play from Guedes. The 23 year old Spaniard made clean contact with the ball, but his shot spun just wide with Remiro rooted to the spot.

At the other end, Sociedad had their first real chance of note after Merino and Nacho Monreal caused problems down the left, the cross into the box eventually being headed over by Mikel Oyarzabal in the middle. It was a miss they would rue as they fell further behind just 3 minutes later. A poor pass from Andoni Gorosabel saw Maxi Gómez, recently linked with Dortmund, nip in ahead of Robin Le Normand before setting his strike partner free. Kevin Gameiro carried the ball forward before producing the pick of the bunch, a sublime chipped finish over the onrushing Álex Remiro to claim his hat-trick and pretty much guarantee his side the 3 points.

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Gameiro: Pick of the bunch for his hat-trick


With Sociedad unable to find a way back, Valencia could have quite easily sat back, but they continued to press and were almost rewarded with a fourth with just 2 minutes of normal time remaining. Another deep Daniel Wass set-piece from the right was met on the half-turn by centre-half Diakhaby in the centre, Remiro getting down low well to save and hold onto the ball to deny the defender his goal. Not perturbed, 2 minutes later Mouctar Diakhaby did finally claim his second goal of the season, this time a short corner from substitute Jason being whipped in by Carlos Soler, Diakhaby glancing home at the near post to confirm an emphatic win for the league leaders.

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Diakhaby: Try, try and try again – finally scores with 3rd attempt of game


The result at the Anoeta is bound to make other teams sit up and take real notice of this Valencia side, who currently find themselves 2 points in front at the top of the league, albeit having played a game more than second placed Barcelona, the only team to beat them this season. Another career hat-trick from Kevin Gameiro also sees the striker currently 3 goals clear as top scorer in the current La Liga season, with Messi and then Alex Isak occupying second and third respectively. The 33 year old former French international also has 4 man of the match awards this season, the same number as teammate Maxi Gómez and best in the league as Los Che continue to earn plaudits under their new manager.

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Gameiro: Fourth man of the match award this season, 12 goals now in La Liga
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Week 12 in review

Getafe bounced back from their 2-0 defeat against league leaders Valencia last weekend to chalk up an impressive 5-2 comeback win against lowly Cádiz on Saturday evening as Round 12 got underway. The Madrid based side found themselves 2-0 down after 23 minutes of the game before former West Brom and Watford defender Allan Nyom pulled one back. Further goals from Jaime Mata, Damián Suárez and a double from another former Watford man, the on-loan Juan Hernández, ensured the hosts claimed their third win of the season.

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Atlético Madrid began the action on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Villarreal, their fourth successive win since defeat against neighbours Real, to continue their push for the European places, while Sevilla bounced back from their derby thumping with a 2-1 victory on the road against Celta Vigo, aided by the red card for Ander Guevara for the hosts. The key game came in the early evening kick off at the Camp Nou, Barcelona edging out Real Madrid as second hosted third, Lionel Messi and Coutinho grabbing the goals for the Azulgrana before a late Luka Jovic strike restored some pride for the visitors, both sides remaining where as they were in the table with Real travelling to face leaders Valencia next game.

Osasuna find themselves back in 4th spot after a comfortable 3-0 win at home against Elche, their return to the Champions League spots aided by Real Sociedad‘s collapse against Valencia. Granada needed a goal in stoppage time from Darwin Machís to ensure they left Valencia with a win, the late strike ensuring a 2-1 win against Levante who remain in the bottom 3, while there were 1-1 draws between Huesca and Valladolid, and Real Betis and Alavés. The final game of the weekend saw Eibar once again suffer defeat, although they did at least give a good account of themselves in the 4-2 loss away to Athletic Bilbao, twice pulling themselves level before a second goal from Iker Muniain and a late Óscar de Marcos goal consigned them to their 9th defeat of the season.

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Valencia denied by late goal

A late strike denied Valencia all three points as another impressive display saw them draw 1-1 with reigning champions Real Madrid at the Mestalla. The hosts came into this game in 2nd spot, with Barcelona having played earlier in the evening, knowing victory would return them to the top. Midfielder Uros Racic is still absent, meaning youngster Yunus Musah was once again given the nod in midfield, while Real Madrid were without Eden Hazard, suffering from a groin injury, and Karim Benzema, with hip problems, while Éder Militão was suspended for the encounter.

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Valencia underlined their intent going close just 2 minutes in, with winger Gonçalo Guedes allowed to carry the ball cross field, before he then laid off for Soler. The ball was then fed wide for Daniel Wass, and when his cross was met first time by Kevin Gameiro, the Real Madrid backline did well to block the initial attempt, before his second effort on the rebound flashed just wide of the upright with Thibaut Courtois scrambling.

The visitors failed to heed the warning, and found themselves falling behind just four minutes later after a sensational piece of football from the hosts. Starting on the right with a Wass throw-in, the full back interchanged quick passes with both Gameiro and Musah before eventually switching the ball inside to Guedes. The winger laid back off for Musah, who carried the ball across the edge of the area before finding midfield partner Soler, who quickly switched play back out to Wass on the wing. This time the Danish international back-heeled to Guedes. With Yunus Musah lurking on the edge of the area, the Portuguese winger teed him up, the former Arsenal youngster giving Courtois no chance as his piledriver flew into the top corner.

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Musah: Fantastic long range finish after superb passage of play


At the other end, Real Madrid started to grow into the game with Dani Carvajal and Ángel Di María looking to cause particular problems down the right. Half an hour in the pair combined before midfielder Toni Kroos then tried to slip in Luka Jovic, Valencia keeper Jasper Cillessen doing well to react quickest to come out and smoother the ball. Valencia then launched a quick counter attack, the ball eventually breaking for Kevin Gameiro who again fired just wide of the target as Valencia looked to double their lead.

Just inside the hour mark, visitors Real were again grateful for Courtois as he prevented Valencia extending their advantage. A searching ball forward from Gabriel Paulista at the back found former Real Madrid winger Cheryshev in space on the wing. He took a touch before finding Soler inside, who in turn played a quick ball forward for Maxi Gómez, the Uruguayan losing his marker Sergio Ramos to get a shot away, but Belgian shot-stopper Courtois equal to the challenge as he got down well to his near post to produce a great save.

Valencia then tried another counter, this time a deep Ødegaard free kick being cleared up to Cheryshev, who picked out Gameiro wide right. The striker cut inside, turning the ball on for strike partner Maxi Gómez, but Raphaël Varane was able to deny the forward getting his shot away with a superb last ditch tackle. Valencia made several changes in an attempt to see out the game, as their high intensity press saw players begin to tire, Mangala, Vieirinha, Correia, Smith Rowe and Antonio Valencia all coming on in the closing stages of the game.

Inside 10 minutes to go, Real Madrid finally found an equaliser, although Valencia will be frustrated as they had done more than enough to win this one. Argentine winger Ángel Di María broke down the right before attempting to cut inside. Substitute Thierry Correia did superb to initially tackle the former PSG man, who only returned to Real Madrid this season, but as the ball broke the international unleashed an unstoppable fierce shot that was just too powerful for Cillessen to react in time. Despite the disappointment for Valencia, who had 12 shots to their visitors 5, the side now find themselves on the back of a 7 game unbeaten run and still firmly deposited in 2nd place in the league despite having faced both leaders Barcelona and now 3rd place Real Madrid in recent months.

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Yunus Musah: 18 year old grabs man of the match in just his second senior start this season
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Week 13 in review

Barcelona returned to the top of La Liga with a convincing 4-0 win as they hosted Alavés on Wednesday evening. The Azulgrana took advantage of playing earlier in the evening than Valencia to register a comfortable 4-0 win which sees them back on top, courtesy of a better goal difference, although they also have a game in hand over Valencia, who now find themselves in second spot after a late goal from Ángel Di María saw them draw 1-1 with Real Madrid.

The earlier games saw Atlético Madrid inflict another defeat on Cádiz, although many would have predicted more than the 1-0 win which saw Atlético move into European qualification contention. A Sergio León hat-trick for Levante against his former side Real Betis couldn’t prevent them remaining in the bottom 3, eventually losing 4-3 thanks to a late Juanma winner. Villarreal returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo, while Valladolid will have been grateful for a point in their 0-0 draw with Getafe after being reduced to 10 men as Roque Mesa saw red.

Athletic Bilbao move into fourth, just one point behind Real Madrid, after a 3-0 win at home against Osasuna saw them leapfrog the Pamplona based side, Raúl García grabbing a brace for the hosts in the victory. There was also a double for Guido Carrillo as his side Elche dumped further misery on bottom club Eibar in a 2-1 win. The final game of the midweek fixtures saw Granada chalk up an impressive 2-0 win against Real Sociedad, who now drop to 9th having been in and around the European qualification spots of late, albeit the Basque side still only sit three points behind Atlético in 5th.

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