Santi Mina scored twice as Valencia recorded their first victory of the 2018-19 Champions League campaign with a 3-1 triumph over Young Boys that applies pressure on Manchester United in Group H.
After three games without a win in Europe, Valencia finally earned all three points as Mina made it four goals in his last three competitive matches.
Twice the 22-year-old combined with Carlos Soler in the opening 45 minutes of Wednesday’s clash, his strikes coming either side of Roger Assale’s leveller.
Having created two in the first half, Soler was on hand to extend the hosts’ lead after the restart with a low drive that was too good for David von Ballmoos as Valencia pushed Young Boys – who had Sekou Sanogo sent off – close to elimination.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 7, 2018
Rodrigo Moreno saw an early goal disallowed for offside, but he was instrumental in Valencia’s 14th-minute opener. His pass opened up the visitors’ defence to find Soler and, although the midfielder’s delicately dinked effort struck the post, Mina rifled home the rebound from two yards.
Young Boys should have levelled just before the half hour only for Assale to fail to connect with Kevin Mbabu’s right-wing cross, but the striker made no mistake 10 minutes later with a low drive that arrowed into the bottom corner.
They were not level for long, though, as Soler produced a teasing 41st-minute cross from the right that Mina poked past Von Ballmoos.
Valencia gave themselves a two-goal cushion 10 minutes after the restart as the impressive Soler capped his night with a fine goal, the midfielder given the freedom to surge into the area and fire home from Rodrigo’s pass.
Sanogo’s late red card for a shocking two-footed challenge on Francis Coquelin ended Young Boys’ already slim hopes of a comeback as Valencia eased to a much-needed victory.
What does it mean?
Who qualifies from Group H is now far from certain with Valencia’s win moving them above United, albeit having played a game more, with the two sides due to meet in the final group game on December 12 after the Spanish side have been to pool leaders Juventus.
Soler-powered Valencia up and running
It was a superb night for 21-year-old Soler, who was Valencia’s creative heartbeat in the first half before turning goalscorer after the break. While the quality was not always there for the hosts, Soler delivered every time.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 7, 2018
Assale pays the price
Chances were at a premium for Young Boys but when they did fashion an opening too often they were wasteful, with Assale the main culprit. His mistakes allowed Valencia to establish a hold on proceedings that they never let go of.
Key Opta Facts:
– Valencia have recorded their first home win of 2018-19 in all competitions, ending a run of seven games without a victory (D5 L2).
– Valencia had only scored four goals in their opening seven home matches in all competitions this season from 120 shots (3.3 per cent conversion rate) – in this match, they scored three goals from 10 shots (30 per cent converted).
– Young Boys made 25 fouls and were given six cards (five yellow, one red) in this match – the most fouls by a team and the joint-most cards for a team in a Champions League match in 2018-19 so far.
– Carlos Soler is the first player to both score and assist a goal in a Champions League match for Valencia since November 2011. It was also the first time that Soler has scored and assisted in the same game for Valencia in all competitions.
Marcelino’s side travel to Getafe in LaLiga on Saturday hoping to claim a second league win of the season, while Young Boys will look to continue their dominance of the Swiss Super League against St Gallen.
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