Valencia at the double
Gary Neville's side beat Rapid Vienna 4-0 to move into the last 16 of the Europa League with a 10-0 aggregate victory.
The only threat that Valencia encountered in Vienna came from two messages daubed on their hotel and a handful of banners in the stadium. The most the Rapid ultras could hope to achieve was to offend from the stands, in the knowledge that after the 6-0 defeat at Mestalla there was little to be done on the pitch. Valencia went on to chalk up a 4-0 victory with goals from Rodrigo, Sofiane Feghouli, Pablo Piatti and Ruben Vezo, who combined to also hand Gary Neville a fourth consecutive triumph.
Neville was the antithesis of the ultras. The Valencia manager was respectful to the opposition and to the competition. Logic took care of the rest. Neville made changes, although his side was entirely comprised of first team squad players, courtesy of a largely empty treatment room at Mestalla. Lato, Rafa Mir and Tropi all got an enjoyable run out and senior players Rodrigo, Piatti, Javi Fuego and Mathew Ryan all took their opportunity to impress, Rodrigo and Piatti finding themselves on the score sheet, a much needed occurrence. Fuego got the playing time his body needs at the moment while Australia keeper Ryan dealt with what Rapid were able to throw at him, principally a header from Stefan Schwab, and kept another clean sheet. Even Vezo joined the party with a set-piece finish.
Valencia were coherent and superior to their opponent and not content to rest on the laurels of their 6-0 victory in Mestalla. The visitors controlled the game with possession in the first half and with speed and efficiency in the second. The first three goals came on the counter attack, with precision passing and ruthless finishing. Valencia will go into the draw for the last 16 on the back of a 10-0 aggregate win, which doesn’t paint Rapid in a good light but is difficult to achieve in Europe in any case. Neville appears to have found his side’s sweet spot.
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