6 min read

Garry Rodrigues takes to the air

Elche CF 0 – 4 Valencia CF ….. The visit of high flying Valencia, just like the trip to Sevilla the week before, was always going to be difficult for Elche and so it proved.

An immensely entertaining first half, during which the hosts gave as good as they got, was punctuated by a Valencia opener a minute before the break. Thereafter, and in spite of a bright opening to the second period, Elche were soon two behind and chasing the game as Valencia took complete control.

For much of the opening period the game ebbed and flowed as both sides sought to make their mark, twice Los Che thought they’d scored only for an assistant referee’s flag to curtail their celebrations. Undeterred, Elche pressed on and, whilst looking very good on the counter, couldn’t find a way past the well marshalled visiting defence. At the other end, Feghouli went agonisingly close with a deft, flicked volley that grazed an upright.

An error by Chilean central defender Enzo Roco down the right gifted Valencia possession, a mistake that was to prove costly. Alcácer slung in a deep cross to the far post where Feghouli was on hand to divert it goal-wards, Tyton could only push the ball into the path of André Gomes who made no mistake from four yards out. So close to the interval the goal was tough on Elche and served to demonstrate how top teams punish errors.

Valencia weathered an early Elche storm and inside fifteen second half minutes doubled their lead. A precision pass by the excellent Feghouli released goalscorer André Gomes who centred for Paco Alcácer to volley home acrobatically as the Elche back four appealed in vain for offside. They didn’t realise it but a bad night for Elche, and Enzo Roco in particular, was just about to get even worse.

An identical build up to the second Valencia goal featuring the same players again paid dividends; this time, though, the hapless Roco, under no pressure and in the apparent absence of a shout from goalkeeper Tyton, steered the ball into his own net to gift Valencia their third. Just a couple down, Elche were still playing well enough to take something from the game but that goal, or rather the manner of it, visibly deflated them and was the signal for thousands of locals to head for the exit with a good twenty minutes remaining.

Chasing a lost cause and a three goal deficit, ‘Mister’ Fran Escribá was bold with his changes, sending on forward Herrera and Coro in the vain hope of divine intervention. Instead, it was Valencia who scored the game’s fourth and final goal deep into time added on when Otamendi rose unchallenged to power a header past Tyton who stood rooted to the spot. This was a clinical performance by Valencia whose strong third place in the classification really is no fluke.

Elche’s La Liga survival hopes won’t rest on defeats like this and that to Sevilla last week. Moreover, avoiding defeat and, ideally, beating their direct basement rivals – they must still play Cordoba, Deportivo and Levante – will be crucial. Time will tell.

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