Neville hopes 6-0 win will spark 'positive run'

The clenched fist of Valencia's Alvaro Negredo speaks volumes as he embraces team-mate Santi Mina during the 6-0 rout of Rapid Vienna in their Europa League clash. The win further eased the pressure on Gary Neville, who turned 41 that day.
The clenched fist of Valencia's Alvaro Negredo speaks volumes as he embraces team-mate Santi Mina during the 6-0 rout of Rapid Vienna in their Europa League clash. The win further eased the pressure on Gary Neville, who turned 41 that day.PHOTO: REUTERS

VALENCIA • On Gary Neville's 41st birthday, Valencia set a Europa League record by scoring five goals in the first half of their tie against a hapless Rapid Vienna on Thursday.

Despite the second leg still to come next week, Santi Mina, 20, all but ensured that the Spanish club would reach the last 16 by scoring twice and setting up the other three goals before half-time.

Rodrigo scored in the penultimate minute to make the final score 6-0, equalling the competition record set by Steaua Bucharest 18 months ago.

It came five days after English manager Neville saw his team win for the first time under him in the Spanish Primera Liga, when Valencia beat Espanyol 2-1.

And, in their stadium against Rapid, Mina started the rout after four minutes and Dani Parejo doubled the lead six minutes later.

Mina scored his second after 25 minutes and Alvaro Negredo made it 4-0 four minutes later. Andre Gomes netted the fifth 10 minutes before half-time.

Mina, who turned 20 in December, scored four goals in one league game for his previous club, Celta Vigo, in April last year, but has only scored two league goals this season. He joined Valencia on a six-year deal for €10 million (S$15.6 million) last summer.

Neville said: "Obviously the result makes it my best night in Valencia. But I've never celebrated victories halfway through the season and this will not be the first time."

He did not taste victory in any of his first 12 league matches and has faced calls for his sacking from fans and the media.

He hopes his team have turned the corner in terms of results, although he insists that they have been playing well for some time.

"I hope to start a positive run," he said, "but it is dangerous to start thinking about turning points. I never thought I needed a result to see a turning point - sometimes we cannot explain how we have not got wins. The squad are stronger, more confident. I'm very happy about tonight."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Neville hopes 6-0 win will spark 'positive run''. Print Edition | Subscribe