La Liga

Valencia exerts punishment on Malaga

Roberto Soldado of Valencia celebrates after scoring
Roberto Soldado celebrates his double for Valencia against Malaga on Saturday night.
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Valencia produced an astonishing first half blitz to thrash Malaga 5-1 and boost their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

After a goalless opening 25 minutes Valencia suddenly went on the rampage with four goals in six remarkable minutes to all but wrap up the win before half-time. Dani Parejo opened the scoring before Roberto Soldado struck twice in as many minutes, the second from the penalty spot, as Valencia took complete control of proceedings.

Worse was to follow for hapless Malaga though as Sergio Canales extended Valencia's lead further. The visitors finally gave their fans something to cheer about when Julio Baptista pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time from a free-kick, but any hopes of a revival from the Andalusian side were soon demolished when Ever Banega added a fifth for Valencia shortly after the re-start.

Valencia had experienced a traumatic fortnight off the pitch with the resignations of president Manuel Llorente and Federico Varona, president of the Valencia Foundation which part owns the club, and before the game coach Ernesto Valverde said all they could do was try and put things right on the field of play.

And that was exactly what they did. Canales had the first chance, bursting through on goal but scuffing his shot wide.

Valencia kept the ball well and piled sustained pressure on their opponents, who struggled to get into the game. The hosts' dominance bore fruit on 25 minutes when Parejo made the most of a lucky bounce to regain possession and knock his shot past Willy Caballero.

It was the least Valverde's side deserved but they were not content with scoring just the once.

Less than two minutes after the opener, Aly Cissokho picked the ball up from the halfway line and burst down the left wing, skipping past Manuel Iturra and Jesus Gamez before sending over a cross which Soldado slotted home at the far post.

Malaga were in a state of shock and Valencia were showing no mercy as they won a penalty with their next attack. Martin Demichelis tripped Banega just inside the box to halt another surge, and Soldado struck a perfect spot-kick past a hapless Caballero.

However, Valencia were still not done.

Their forwards and midfielders pressed Malaga immediately from the re-start and within 11 seconds of the kick-off had the ball in the net again, Jonas forcing a save from Caballero and Canales slotting home the rebound.

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Valencia had scored four goals in the space of six minutes and then finally took their foot off the pedal. Baptista scored a superb free-kick on the stroke of half-time that during any other game would have been celebrated wildly, but Malaga knew they had little hope of getting back into the game.

And 11 minutes into the second half, Banega entered the box from the left-hand side and rifled a shot at goal which Caballero could not prevent from going in.

Malaga then produced a dignified second-half performance but were unable to cut the deficit, although Baptista and Joaquin came close.

For Valencia, the result was the perfect revenge for the 4-0 defeat Malaga inflicted on them at La Rosaleda in November and they move three points clear of their victims into fifth, snapping at the heels of Real Sociedad, who are one point ahead of them in that coveted fourth position, and face a difficult trip to Osasuna tomorrow.

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