It was known that it would not be an easy task for Real Madrid at Mestalla – one of the toughest venues in Europe. No matter how big the opponents, they would always have travelled through the choppy waters and steer the ship at the shore. As usual, the going was tough for the Los Blancos and the never say die attitude which was nurtured under Zinedine Zidane paid rich dividends.

Both sides have made encouraging starts to the season so far. The Los Che have beaten Getafe, Alaves and Osasuna so far, while Granada held them to a draw. Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid also beat Alaves, while they have also enjoyed other wins over Real Betis and Celta Vigo, with Levante holding them to a 3-3 draw.

Valencia winger Denis Cheryshev missed out due to a knee injury, while Cristiano Piccini was also on the sidelines for the time being. He and Gaya dropped out, meaning Foulquier and Duro came into the starting XI. Ancelotti made just one change to his team following the 1-0 win over Inter as Hazard replaced Lucas Vazquez.

Valencia have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 18 matches against Real Madrid in La Liga, their longest streak without keeping a clean sheet against Los Blancos in the competition since 1995.

Valencia were dealt a pair of early blows with both Carlos Soler and Thierry Correira leaving the match inside of 23 minutes due to injuries.

Things were quiet for Real Madrid on the attacking end, with only just a couple of half-chances for Hazard and Benzema. The injury bug also struck Los Blancos, as Dani Carvajal had to leave with an injury and was replaced by Lucas Vazquez.

The best scoring opportunity of the first 45 minutes came shortly before halftime when a flashing header from Gabriel Paulista off a cross from Daniel Wass forced Thibaut Courtois into a reaction save.

Valencia also created the first chances of the second stanza, first with Courtois saving a Hugo Duro effort and then with a slick cut-back pass from the United States international Yunus Musah that Goncalo Guedes fired over the crossbar.

Valencia’s persistence paid off and they would break the deadlock midway through the half when a cross took a slight deflection off the head of Lucas Vazquez and fell perfectly for Hugo Duro to latch onto with his left foot and fire into the goal for a 1-0 lead.

Ancelotti immediately went to his bench to try to counter the Valencia goal, with Eduardo Camavinga and Rodrygo summoned for Casemiro and Luka Modric. Later on, it was Isco and Luka Jovic on for Fede Valverde and Hazard, as time continued ticking down on Real Madrid’s chances to pull level.

Real Madrid had the pedal to the metal in a hard push for an equaliser and their efforts bore fruit in the final minutes, with Benzema collecting a pass and playing wide to Vinicius, whose shot took a deflection and beat Giorgi Mamardashvili to make it 1-1.

There was still time left to search for a winner and, in classic Real Madrid style, they would find it in the waning minutes with Vinicius serving up a cross and Benzema steering a header goalward for the dramatic 2-1 victory.

“I have a team that scraps and fights whether they are playing well or playing badly,” Ancelotti told reporters.

“We didn’t beat them thanks to our quality; we did it thanks to our indomitable spirit. We kept going right until the end.”

The win took Real to the top of the standings but Ancelotti believes his side are still far from their best.

“We have quite a young team and I’ll be the first person to admit we’re not playing spectacular football at the moment,” he said.

“We didn’t play well in the first half, we attacked well on the break but we were pegged back a lot and when you sit too deep it’s easy to concede goals.”

The defeat was hard to digest for Valencia coach Jose Bordalas, whose side overcame first-half injuries to Carlos Soler and Thierry Correia and had dominated the game until Real’s late fight back.

“We’re sad because the team made an incredible effort after the problems we had with Carlos and Correia,” he said.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do and played much better than them, pressing them high and controlling the game. We played 75 perfect minutes but we couldn’t afford to drop our concentration for even a second.”


“We were a little unlucky but we should have managed the last few minutes better. We didn’t read the game well and ended up paying for our mistakes.”

Facebook Comments