Gary Neville was buoyed by the performance of his Valencia side in the final 20 minutes of their 1-1 draw away to Eibar, as they came from a goal down with 10 men to earn the first La Liga point of the new coach’s reign on Sunday.
Neville’s difficult opening week in charge at Estadio Mestalla, which began with a home defeat to Lyon in the Champions League, looked destined to end with a second successive loss after Sergi Enrich scored for Eibar just before half-time and Lucas Orban was dismissed for what was deemed to be the use of an elbow after the hour mark at Estadio Ipurua.
However, Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech kept his team in the game by saving Saul Berjon’s subsequent penalty and, despite failing to register a single shot on target, Neville’s side claimed a point thanks to David Junca’s late own goal.
The new coach of Los Che was pleased with the resolve shown by team in the final quarter of the game and he urged his players to take those positives into their next match – the visit of Barakaldo in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
“What we saw in 20 minutes is the minimum in every game and that’s what makes me proud,” said Neville. “The Valencia fans who saw (the game) on TV or in the stadium (would have been) proud of how the team battled. We wanted to win, the draw is not [what we wanted].”
The former Manchester United defender did not agree with referee Jose Luis Gonzalez’s decision to send off Orban but he opted not to be too critical of the official.
“After five years of watching videos, I know how difficult it is for the referee to make instant decisions,” he said. “They are very honest people and he wants to do his best work. We are human beings and we can make mistakes.”