Valencia 2-1 Elche: Parejo strike claims Valencia the points
Valencia made the most of strong pressure at the start of the game, pushing themselves ahead through Piatti, midway through the half. Elche responded with their first real chance, Coro grabbing the equaliser. In the second half, Parejo restored the Valencia lead, then Damián missed from the spot for Elche, who then finished the game strongly, but couldn’t find another equaliser.
Valencia made a strong start to the game at the Mestalla, showing no signs of tiredness from their midweek European exploits, as they set about attacking Elche. A loose ball providing Míchel with a great chance to grab an early lead in just the second minute, but he got his finish completely wrong, with the goal at his mercy. Another good chance swiftly followed, as Piatti sent in a dangerous free-kick in the 7th minute, but the strike from Jonas was well saved by Manu Herrera.
After Cristian Herrera was beaten to a through ball by Guaita, Elche were struggling to hold onto the ball well enough and when they had it, imprecise with their passing. Valencia looked to make the most of that with sustained pressure and eventually, their reward came. In the 21st minute, Míchel had the ball on the edge of the area, scuffed his shot, but unintentionally assisted Piatti, who controlled it well before applying the finish.
The lead wasn’t to last long however and despite how poorly Elche were playing, they caught a lucky break when the Valencia defence imploded, failing to clear a ball into their area. Carlos Sánchez collected it, fed the ball through for the run of Coro and he took the easy chance to get the visitors back on level terms in the 27th minute.
On the half-hour, Elche defender Botía went to ground injured and couldn’t continue, stretchered off the pitch and replaced moments later by Lombán in defence.
As the game continued, Valencia dropped their rhythm and life became a little easier for Elche, who sought opportunities to take the lead. Fidel leading a swift counter attack, but Cristian Herrera couldn’t make the most of the final ball. In the 43rd minute though, it was Valencia who came close to edging themselves ahead again, as Parejo fired a free-kick on target, but was denied by a great save from Manu Herrera. The final chance of the half would fall for Elche and though Carlos Sánchez had just the keeper to beat, he somehow managed to fire wide.
Pizzi made a change for Valencia during the interval, sending Fede on to replace Míchel. Elche showed the most danger in the first few moments of the half, with Cisma firing over the crossbar in the 50th minute, after a corner.
Valencia then started to dominate play more over the next ten minutes, forcing a couple of corners that came to nothing, but on the hour, winning a dangerously positioned free-kick. As Elche couldn’t clear the first attempt, Parejo collected the ball and drove a low shot which zipped across the surface of the pitch, clipped the inside of the post and restored the lead for the home side.
Elche made their second change in the 63rd minute as Aarón replaced Rubén Pérez, with Valencia following suit with their second, as Alcácer came on for Vargas in attack. The home side continued to attack and in the 66th minute, Fede had a great chance to extend the lead even further, but was denied by Manu Herrera.
In the 70th minute, Piatti brought down Cristian Herrera inside the area and Elche had an excellent opportunity to level the game once more. The chance went begging however, as Damián’s spot-kick was saved by Guaita, who chose the right direction.
Frantic movement from the benches again in the 74th minute, as the managers played tactical chess. Valencia replaced Jonas with Keita and Elche sent on Boakye for Fidel.
Valencia were trying to hold Elche at bay by keeping the ball, but as the game headed into the final ten minutes, the visitors were pushing hard for an equaliser. Boakye with a golden chance in the 84th minute, but unable to steer the ball into the back of the net. Then in the 88th minute and having spotted Guaita off his line, Márquez tried an audacious shot from the middle of the pitch, but it didn’t dip enough and ended up over the crossbar.
Into stoppage time and with tempers frayed, the referee had his hands full. In the 93rd minute, Barragán collected his second yellow card and expulsion, after a nasty challenge on Carlos Sánchez. For what moments remained of the game however, Valencia held on with ten men and Elche were left empty handed.
Valencia 2-1 Elche
Referee: Álvarez Izquierdo
Valencia XI: Guaita; Barragán, Vezo, Fuego, Bernat; Míchel (46′), Oriol Romeu, Parejo, Piatti; Vargas (63′), Jonas (74′).
Goals: Piatti (22′), Parejo (61′)
Subs: Fede (46′), Alcácer (63′), Keita (74′)
Yellow Cards: Piatti (69′), Barragán (71′, 93′+ red), Parejo (83′), Fuego (92′)
Elche XI: Manu Herrera; Damián, Botía (33′), Pelegrín, Cisma; Carlos Sánchez, Rubén Pérez (63; Coro, Márquez, Fidel (74′); Cristian Herrera.
Goals: Coro (28′)
Subs: Lombán (33′), Aarón (63′), Boakye (74′)
Yellow Cards: Rubén Pérez (53′), Cisma (72′)