Valencia CF lie third in the table after a hard-earned home win over Athletic Club in a thrilling encounter were both sides showed their competitive edge and determination. In-form players Zaza, Rodrigo and Parejo from 12 yards put Valencia CF third as they stretch their unbeaten run ahead of the international break.
The opening minutes of the first half saw a slow and sloppy start by both sides. The first promising chance fell to Susaeta who picked the ball up and tested Neto with a low long-range effort but Neto was equal to it turning it round for a corner. Athletic were providing the danger as Valencia CF were slowly growing into the game.Close to the halfway mark, Gayà enjoyed a fine double chance which forced the keeper into a double save.
Guedes came close to opening the scoring but his header was cleared away by Nuñez but as the saying goes, third time lucky. Gayà set it up perfectly into Zaza who drilled it home making it 1-0 and putting Valencia CF ahead. It is Zaza's fifth goal in three games.
Valencia CF's relentless waves of attack paid off when Rodrigo was bundled over in the box. The captain stepped up and took it right down the middle with a powerful shot to double Valencia CF's lead.
The scoreline remained unchanged and Valencia CF took a comfortable 2-0 lead over Athletic Club at the break.
Athletic Club came out in the second half looking to cut the deficit and over the 30-minute mark in the second half, Aduriz who came on from the dressing room beat Neto with a fine move and a cross-strike. Later on, Montoya delivered a delightful ball into Rodrigo who arrived first on the scene to beat Kepa.
Athletic Club never backed down and with just over 15 minutes of normal time left to play, Raúl García, cut the deficit to one goal back again with a close header past Neto, who save the day for the home side sticking his leg out denying him the equaliser in the last promising chance of the game.
Valencia CF showed their resilience and managed to hang on stretching their unbeaten run ahead of the international break.
3. Valencia CF: Neto, Montoya, Garay, Gabriel Paulista, Gayà, Parejo, Carlos Soler, Andreas (Maksimovic, m. 71), Guedes (Lato, m. 83), Rodrigo (Santi Mina, m. 73) and Zaza.
2. Athletic Club: Arrizabalaga, Núñez, Laporte, Vesga, San José (Aduriz, m. 46), Balenziaga, Iturraspe, Córdoba, Susaeta, Lekue and Williams (Raúl García, m. 60).
Goals: 1-0. M. 27: Zaza. 2-0. M. 33: Parejo, from the spot. 2-1. M. 59: Aduriz. 3-1. M. 65: Rodrigo. 3-2. M. 76: Raúl García.
Referee: Hernández Hernández. Booked Gayà, Parejo, Zaza for Valencia CF, y a Arrizabalaga, Núñez, Raúl García, Vesga for Athletic Club.
Observations: Matchday 7 of LaLiga played at Mestalla in front of 42,070 spectators in attendance.
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