Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Valencia: Larrivey heads Rayo a step closer to survival
Rayo Vallecano claimed a priceless three points against a misfiring Valencia, thanks to a powerful and precise header from Larrivey, just after the hour mark.
Rayo headed into the game in desperate need of points, but in the early stages of the game, things didn’t look at all promising for them, with Valencia pressing forward with intensity and purpose.
Barragán was a particular danger on the overlap and down the right flank for Valencia. In the 4th minute his endeavours down the wing culminated in a good cross towards the near post, but though Alcácer was there to make the connection, he scuffed his finish well wide of the target.
Valencia maintained their pressure, but couldn’t find the precision in the final third, before the first chance eventually came for Rayo in the 12th minute. Falque with the cross and Trashorras with a header, but completely wrong with his execution and to be fair, it’s not one of his strongest points.
As play opened up more, it would be the woodwork that would prevent either of the two sides from opening the scoring. In the 14th minute, Bernat fired in a good ball for Alcácer to strike first time, but it cannoned back of the crossbar and Vargas snatched at the rebound, sending it over. Then it way Rayo’s turn, as Larrivey found time and space to lash a powerful shot on goal, only to see that strike the post.
Alcácer was coming the closest to scoring for Valencia and in the 19th minute, a free-kick was whizzed agonisingly over by the young striker. From one end to the other, both sides looking to attack, with the next chances falling to Rayo. In the 25th minute, Rochina fired over and then a moment later, Larrivey tried his luck from outside the area, with that effort only a fraction wide of the post.
Past the half-hour and in the 32nd minute, a fluffed attempt to clear danger by Valencia keeper Alves almost cost his side a goal, as Bueno latched onto the rebound for Rayo, but snatched at his shot and sent it wide.
More pressure came from Rayo and they were clearly growing in confidence as the game progressed, whilst Valencia seemed to be struggling defensively. The home side couldn’t exploit any of the numerous errors the visitors were making at the back. A late spell of attacking pressure won Valencia corners in the final moments of the half, but they couldn’t make the most of the opportunities from their set-pieces.
Valencia came out for the second half, just as they’d started the first, with plenty of attacking purpose. A free-kick presented them with a good opportunity in the 50th minute, but Míchel fired just wide of the mark.
The pendulum of play gradually swung back in favour of Rayo as game progressed. Gálvez striking powerfully from a free-kick in the 52nd minute, but tipped away for a corner by Valencia keeper Alves. More pressure came from the home side, as Rat and Bueno had chances.
Valencia were the first to make movements from the bench in the 57th minute, as Pizzi sent on Jonas for Míchel, looking for fresh ideas in attack. That was followed in the 60th minute by the first for Rayo, as Jémez replaced the injured Tito with Arbilla at right-back.
Before the impact of either of the substitutions could be noted however, Rayo grabbed themselves the lead in the 61st minute. Rat forward well down the left flank, a great cross to the far post and Larrivey leaping like a salmon to power home an unstoppable header.
Valencia had to make a reaction, but as they attacked and Rayo defended with everything they had, even the goalscorer Larrivey was back to help win the ball, earning himself a rousing ovation from the home fans. A penalty appeal from the visitors was turned down in the 66th minute, but there looked no intention by the Rayo defender.
After Keita fired poorly and wide, Pizzi made his next change, bringing on Vinicius for Portu and a more attacking shape in the 70th minute. Another penalty claim from Valencia in the 71st minute and another supposed handball, but once more, the referee had no doubts it was without intent by Gálvez. After another fruitless attack from the visitors, Rayo made their next change, as Longo replaced Larrivey, who was absolutely shattered after his efforts all over the pitch, leaving to an appreciative ovation from the Vallecas crowd in the 73rd minute.
Gálvez had another opportunity to strike a Rayo free-kick from considerable distance in the 75th minute, but saved at the second attempt by Valencia. Already an uphill struggle, the task was made harder in the 76th minute when Barragán collected his second yellow card of the night, followed by the red, after a poorly timed challenge on Falque.
Despite the man disadvantage, that didn’t stop Valencia from attacking. They were still behind and had no alternative. Rayo were holding stubbornly firm at the back though, until the 85th minute when Feghouli skimmed the top of the crossbar with a powerful header.
Final changes came for both sides in the 86th minute, with Joao Pereira replacing Vargas for Valencia, whilst Rayo sent on a more defensive minded Baena for Rochina, as they looked to hang on for the final minutes, despite still having a man more in play than their opponents.
Valencia threw everything they had into attack, as Jonas was centimetres away from connecting with a lovely cross from Feghouli. Into stoppage time and with the Vallecas crowd roaring on their side, Rayo held firm as a Jonas effort was saved by Rubén, then in the final attack of the game, Vinicius fired over.
A priceless three points for Rayo, who although they don’t leave the bottom three, are two points away from safety now, with a morale boosting victory. Valencia were below-par and created enough chances to have done better, but simply couldn’t make them count.
Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Valencia
Referee: Clos Gómez
Rayo Vallecano XI: Rubén; Tito (60′), Zé Castro, Gálvez, Rat; Trashorras, Saúl; Rochina (86′), Bueno, Falque; Larrivey (73′).
Goals: Larrivey (61′)
Subs: Arbilla (60′), Longo (73′), Baena (86′)
Yellow Cards: Tito (18′), Saúl (50′), Trashorras (81′)
Valencia XI: Diego Alves; Barragán, Senderos, Mathieu, Bernat; Portu (70′), Keita; Feghouli, Vargas (86′), Míchel (57′); Alcácer.
Subs: Jonas (57′), Vinicius (70′), J.Pereira (86′)
Yellow Cards: Portu (32′), Barragán (62′, 75′ + red)