Carlos Soler netted a hat-trick of penalties as he helped Valencia defeat reigning league champions Real Madrid 4-1 at the Mestalla on Sunday evening.
Karim Benzema gave the visitors the lead midway through the first-half with a stunning goal before Soler equalised from the penalty spot with a little bit of help from VAR madness. A crazy own-goal from Raphael Varane just before the break completed a great turnaround, with Soler then hitting again from the spot following a rash challenge from Marcelo.
The Spaniard completed hit hat-trick midway through the second-half, securing a thumping victory for the home side.
Here are five things we learnt from the Mestalla:
Penalty woes for the champions
It’s not very often you see three penalties in one match, let alone three for the same team but that’s exactly what happened on Sunday at the Mestalla. In fact, it is the first time in the history of Real Madrid that they have had three spot-kicks awarded against them in the same game. Zinedine Zidane’s men though will feel aggrieved with at least two of the decisions.
The first goal that saw Valencia draw level was a contentious handball from Lucas Vazquez. A very similar decision by the referee was also given as Sergio Ramos seemingly handled the ball too, leaving the heavy defeat possibly easy to analyse.
Los Blancos finally defeated on the road
One aspect that saw Los Blancos lift the league title last season was their excellent form away from the Santiago Bernabeu. In total, they only fell to defeat on three occasions on foreign soil last campaign. In fact, before their trip to the Mestalla, they had not lost in any out of their last nine away league games – their longest such run in over three years.
However, the defeat to Valencia bought an end to that impressive run, something that will hugely disappoint Zidane especially considering the hosts had only won one out of their opening four league matches at home this season.
Benzema continues hot streak
There will certainly not be too many positives for Zidane to take from a 4-1 defeat but one aspect that will certainly please him is the form of Benzema. The French forward was instrumental in Real Madrid lifting the Spanish title last season with 21 strikes and eight assists in the league. With eight matches having been played this term, he already looks set to repeat that this term. With his goal against Valencia, an absolutely stunning drive from the edge of the penalty area, he took his goal contributions to seven in the league already, four goals and three assists. He has also scored in each of his last four games in all competitions.
Keep up that form for the next ten months, and he might again be the man to lead Los Blancos to glory despite Sunday’s defeat.
Valencia show mettle again
For a side that were going into the game with four defeats already in the league, it might well be somewhat of a surprise to find out that Valencia actually have gained the most points having fallen behind.
Los murciélagos have actually gained seven points from losing positions so far this season, claiming victories against Real Madrid and Levante. They of course deserve praise for possessing the character to bounce back, but the fact that they have to keep coming from behind will frustrate boss Javi Gracia.
Injuries hit again
It was always going to be a season full of injuries considering the packed schedule and even more hit both sides on Sunday. Benzema and Ernesto Valverde were withdrawn at the Mestalla, seemingly carrying knocks.
The hosts also had their own problems with Lee Kang-in sustaining what looked like a heavy knock. It remains to be seen whether any of the trio will be fit for the upcoming international break and indeed their team’s respective league fixtures.
Valencia: Jaume (7); Gaya (7), Guillamon (8), Gabriel (7), Wass (6); Cheryshev (6) (Toni Lato (N/A), 77′), Racic (7), Soler (9), Musah (7) (Jason (N/A), 87′); Gomez (7) (Pozuelo (N/A), 87′), Lee (7) (Gameiro (N/A), 81′).
Real Madrid: Courtois (5); Marcelo (4), Ramos (5), Varane (5), Vazquez (5); Modric (6), Valverde (6) (Kroos (N/A), 76′); Vinicius (5) (Rodrygo (6), 64′), Isco (6) (Jovic (N/A), 83′), Asensio (5) (Odegaard (5), 64′), Benzema (7) (Mariano (N/A), 76′).
Goals: Benzema (23′), Soler (PEN 35′, PEN 54′, PEN 62′), Varane OG (43′)
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
Yellow Cards: Soler (41′), Racic (43′), Marcelo (52′), Ramos (62′) Guillamon (84′), Jaume (86′)
Red Cards: N/A
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