UEFA Europa League: Valencia hand out footballing lesson
Rapid travelled to Valencia for Thursday's UEFA Europa League round of 32 clash in the hope that they might spring a surprise on their illustrious opponents, but nonetheless with a huge amount of respect for the Spanish giants. Zoran Barisic and his players wanted to demonstrate that they could compete at this level, and were aiming to not go into their shells, to press high and try to get up the pitch. Unfortunately straight from kick-off the gulf in class become painfully obvious, as the Green & Whites were left chasing shadows for the majority of the match.
Just a few minutes into the match the size of the task facing Rapid became obvious: an excellent ball from Gomes sliced the struggling Viennese open and Santi Mina buried the chance with a degree of aplomb from close range (4.). Santi Mina then turned architect allowing Valencia to quickly double their advantage, as he picked out Parejo with defence splitting pass. Parejo did the rest, giving Richard Strebinger no chance with a high quality finish (10.). A shocked Rapid outfit tried to muster a response via Jelic whose effort was blocked, but things quickly went from bad to worse: a dangerous ball into the box was met once more by Santi Mina, who easily bagged his second of the evening and Valencia's third (24.), before Negredo added a simple fourth as things threatened to get very ugly (29.). Gomes added a fifth in the 35th minute as Rapid were completely exposed by Valencia's high quality football. The Green & Whites simply couldn't plug the holes at the back, or get any meaningful possession in either their own half or the opponents’. Steffen Hofmann departed injured before the break, as Rapid and the legions of loyal travelling fans began wondering how bad things might get during the second half.
Thankfully it seemed that Valencia's first half exploits had proved to be a cathartic exercise for Gary Neville's side following weeks of frustration, and the hosts took their foot off the gas in the second period and decided to knock the ball about and retain possession. To their credit, Rapid showed great spirit and came forwards attempting to at least salvage some pride and perhaps a consolation goal from a devastating evening. Thanos Petsos tried his luck with a long range shot (54.), before good work from Thomas Murg fashioned a sight of goal for Matej Jelic who could only hit the side netting (59.). The 2600 Rapid fans were struggling to create the sort of atmosphere associated with the club's travelling support, not only because of the demoralising score-line; but also because roughly two hundred supporters were denied entry to the stadium with their flags and paraphernalia - a huge part not only of the atmosphere generated at Rapid’s European games - but also a central pillar of Hüttledorfer fan culture.
Shortly before the Rapid-Viertelstunde Thanos Petsos threatened the Valencia goal with a free kick that went just the wrong side of the far post (72.). The Green & Whites did manage to produce a moment of real quality in the closing stages when an attractive build up lead to a precise cross into the box from Mario Pavelic onto the head of Matej Jelic, who powered a good header downwards and towards goal, only to be denied by a fine stop from Valencia keeper Ryan (82.). There was still time for the home side to add a sixth through Rodrigo with just a couple of minutes to play (88.).
UEFA Europa League:
Valencia CF - SK Rapid 6:0 (5:0)
Estadio Mestalla, 35.000 Attendance, Ref Zelinka (CZE)
Goals: 1:0 Mina (4.), 2:0 Parejo (10.), 3:0 Mina (25.), 4:0 Negredo (29.), 5:0 Gomes (35.), 6:0 Rodrigo (89.);
Valencia CF: Ryan - Cancelo (76./Barragan), Santos, Vezo, Gaya - Parejo (59./Fuego), Danilo, Gomes (68./Rodrigo) - Mina, Negredo, Piatti;
SK Rapid: Strebinger - Pavelic, Sonnleitner, M. Hofmann, Stangl - Petsos, Schwab - Schobesberger (87./Alar), S. Hofmann (45./Grahovac), F. Kainz (46./Murg) - Jelic;
Yellow Cards: Cancelo; Schwab, Grahovac, Petsos;