Short-handed Valencia edge Getafe in LaLiga season opener
Valencia, Spain, Aug 13 (EFE).- Valencia had a player sent off in just the third minute of their LaLiga season opener here Friday night against Getafe, yet the Bats still managed to grab an early lead and hold off a determined opponent down the stretch for a 1-0 victory at Mestalla Stadium.
The Madrid side did little with their numerical superiority for the rest of the first half and the first half-hour following the intermission, surprisingly enjoying their best stretch of the contest after they also were reduced to 10 men in the 76th minute.
A critical play occurred in the opening minute when Hugo Guillamon received a direct red card for a high-cleat challenge against Nemanja Maksimovic. The play was reviewed by VAR and was deemed to warrant the Valencia midfielder’s expulsion, although the banged-up Getafe player was able to continue.
The Azulones appeared poised to dominate the proceedings, but instead Valencia’s Denis Cheryshev was brought down in the area by right back Djene at the 10-minute mark and moments later Carlos Soler opened the scoring by calmly rolling his penalty kick into the right side of the goal past visiting net minder David Soria to the delight of the local fans, who were back at Mestalla after more than a year-long, coronavirus-triggered hiatus.
Valencia then switched to a 4-4-1 formation that served to stymie the attacking plans of Getafe, who dominated possession but created few goal-scoring chances.
The few opportunities the visitors had came on free kicks, the best of which – an attempt by Damian Suarez in the 21st minute – was saved by Valencia goalie Giorgi Mamardashvili.
The hosts, meanwhile, proved dangerous in occasional counterattacks and came closer to building on their lead prior to halftime than relinquishing it.
Getafe head coach Michel sought to boost his attack after the break by inserting Jaime Mata and Vitolo, although Valencia clamped down even more defensively to stave off any potential threats early in the second half.
Fatigue started to set in for the short-handed hosts as the minutes ticked away in the second half, although they caught a break when Getafe defender Erick Cabaco collided with Uruguayan countryman Maxi Gomez at midfield and picked up a second yellow card, a debatable decision by the referee that ended the visitors’ numerical advantage.
Getafe remained the fresher side though and nearly scored the equalizer on a shot inside the area by Mauro Arambarri that clanked off the right post in the 81st minute.
Mamardashvili continued to shine during the remainder of the contest, with the Valencia goalie and defender Omar Alderete doing well to keep the ball out of the net and clear it away two minutes into second-half stoppage time.
“We were one down as soon as the game started … Playing short-handed for such a long time you’re really spent in the final minutes,” Soler said in an on-field interview afterward. “Luckily we had the desire and the nerve to create the penalty, score a goal and put ourselves ahead. No doubt if we can get leads throughout the year it will be difficult to score on us.”
Valencia have first place in LaLiga all to themselves for a few hours.
Nine more Matchday 1 LaLiga matches will be played between Saturday and Monday, highlighted by Real Madrid vs. Alaves, Lionel Messi-less FC Barcelona against Real Sociedad and defending champion Atletico Madrid vs. Celta Vigo. EFE