Football: Valencia win to ease relegation fears

Defender Martin Montoya celebrating his 17th-minute opener against Espanyol. The hosts overcame pre-match protests against club owner Peter Lim and president Chan Lay Hoon to win 2-1, their first first Spanish Primera Liga win since October.
Defender Martin Montoya celebrating his 17th-minute opener against Espanyol. The hosts overcame pre-match protests against club owner Peter Lim and president Chan Lay Hoon to win 2-1, their first first Spanish Primera Liga win since October.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

VALENCIA • Valencia beat Espanyol 2-1 yesterday to earn their first Spanish Primera Liga win since October and temporarily ease tensions at the crisis-stricken club, who remain one place above the relegation zone.

Supporters staged protests against club owner Peter Lim and president Chan Lay Hoon before the first home league game since the resignations of coach Cesare Prandelli and sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch.

Martin Montoya, however, lifted the crowd by opening the scoring in the 17th minute. The former Barcelona defender slid in to finish off an impressive spell of short passing around the Espanyol area.

Striker Santi Mina then pounced from close range in the 73rd minute after goalkeeper Diego Lopez parried Dani Parejo's free kick.

Espanyol defender David Lopez bundled in a late goal for the visitors in the 85th minute to set up a nervy finish, but Valencia saw out the game to claim a first home league win since Sept 22 when they beat Alaves 2-1 at the Mestalla.

Valencia, who are one of Spain's most successful clubs with six league titles, have hired eight coaches since parting ways with Unai Emery in 2012.

Their most recent appointment Prandelli resigned less than three months after taking the role, after the Italian was frustrated by the constraints the club faced in the transfer market as a result of Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules.

Interim coach Salvador "Voro" Gonzalez, who is taking over from Prandelli for at least until the end of the season, said: "The team needed to win, and to face the game with our circumstances was not easy.

"We knew that Espanyol would be a difficult rival, but the players have managed to face the game with professionalism and conviction.

"We are very happy with the victory because we worked hard to be very focused from the first minute. We had the possession, but Espanyol did not give us too many chances. But the important thing is that we have won.

"It has been a great game if we take into account the situation we have been in. The players are aware of it and they knew that the important thing was to win."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Valencia win to ease relegation fears'. Print Edition | Subscribe