Barcelona hold no fear for Ayestaran

Valencia's players celebrate their dramatic 2-1 win under new coach Pako Ayestaran against Sevilla on Sunday. They are nine points clear of the relegation zone and will face Barcelona next.
Valencia's players celebrate their dramatic 2-1 win under new coach Pako Ayestaran against Sevilla on Sunday. They are nine points clear of the relegation zone and will face Barcelona next. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

VALENCIA • Pako Ayestaran dedicated his first win as Valencia coach to everyone associated with the club and now has reigning La Liga champions Barcelona in his sights.

Valencia earned three crucial points on Sunday after striker Alvaro Negredo struck in stoppage-time to seal a 2-1 against his former club, Sevilla.

Daniel Parejo's deflected free kick in the 41st minute opened the scoring for Valencia, who were without a league win since March 2.

Kevin Gameiro levelled with four minutes left. But Negredo restored the home side's advantage a minute into stoppage time, denying former Valencia coach Unai Emery a happy return to the Mestalla.

"The players, club and fans showed responsibility throughout the week. The victory belongs to all our supporters, our fans were incredible today," Ayestaran said after his first home game in charge since succeeding Gary Neville.

"We aren't fighting for the league, we're fighting for a dignified end to the season and it's difficult, so I'd give a 10 out of 10 to my players, and 11 out of 10 to the supporters."

Valencia moved up to 13th in La Liga, nine points clear of the relegation zone, after picking up their first win in five league matches.

They will next face Barcelona away on Sunday.

Valencia's last trip to the Nou Camp for the Spanish King's Cup semi-final first leg ended in a 0-7 defeat. And Ayestaran is expecting a much better showing this weekend.

"I am only going to prepare the team as well as possible to win the next game," he told the club's website. "I believe in the players, they are responding, and if they continue in this way then they will have my support."

Sevilla, the only team in the league without an away win, stay seventh on 48 points.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Barcelona hold no fear for Ayestaran'. Print Edition | Subscribe