Santi Mina scored twice as Valencia gave their fans three rare goals to cheer
Valencia (Spain) (AFP) - Valencia kept the pressure on Manchester United in Champions League Group H by beating Young Boys 3-1 on Wednesday as the Spanish side registered their first home win of the season.
Carlos Soler, the talented 21-year-old, teed up two Santi Mina strikes in the first half before finding the net himself to seal a rare win for a team whose season has so far been ravaged by draws.
Young Boys levelled when Roger Assale drove into the corner but parity lasted only five minutes, as Mina restored Valencia’s lead towards the end of the first half.
Any faint hopes of a Swiss comeback were dashed when Sekou Sanogo was sent off with 13 minutes remaining for a wild challenge on Francis Coquelin.
It was the culmination of a feisty encounter that featured five yellow cards in the first half alone, a record in this year’s tournament.
For Valencia, victory was all-important to their hopes of reaching the knock-out stage as they now sit two points behind United, who later snatched a shock 2-1 win over Juventus in Turin.
That trip awaits Valencia next but they have the advantage of hosting Jose Mourinho’s side at the Mestalla in the final group game, if they can stay in touch that long.
“We wanted to keep alive our chance of continuing in this tournament and for that we had to win,” coach Marcelino said. “It is wonderful to see the players laugh again.”
After clinching fourth place in La Liga last season, victories and goals have both been hard to come by for Valencia this term.
They sit 15th in the league, with eight draws from 11 games, while in Europe, they had managed just one goal from 42 shots coming into this match. It was the first time they had scored three goals in a game since March.
- Generous Young Boys -
Young Boys, however, were generous in defence, while Soler and Mina showed the sort of ruthlessness up front that has been so lacking in recent weeks.
Solari, a former youth player at Valencia, said: “When I was aged about 11, I helped take the UEFA symbol out to the centre circle and shake it during the anthem. I dreamed I’d play here and score in this competition - now I have.”
The first goal came after 14 minutes as the lively Rodrigo Moreno picked out Soler’s darting run in behind. Soler did brilliantly to chip the goalkeeper but there was a hint of fortune in the ball rebounding back off the far post and landing perfectly for Mina to bundle home.
Young Boys looked dangerous on the break and Assale missed an excellent chance before taking a far more difficult one in the 37th minute. He rolled his studs over the ball before drilling it through the legs of Gabriel Paulista and into the far corner.
Valencia quickly restored their advantage. Soler’s first-time cross caught the Young Boys defence by surprise and Mina poked into the net on the stretch.
The visitors should have pulled level again but Moumi Ngamaleu sidefooted high when free at the back post and Valencia made them pay after the interval.
Soler skipped free after a neat one-two with Rodrigo and with no challenge, drove into the box, before unleashing a shot into the corner.
Valencia were home and dry but Sanogo made sure with a rash tackle on Coquelin that was high and mistimed. Coquelin was eventually able to continue as Valencia held on to sustain their hopes of reaching the last 16.