MX23RW : Saturday, December 15 14:33:27
Mar 4, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Estadio de Mestalla (Valencia)
Attendance: 35,565
Real Betis
Rodrigo (23'), Zaza (47')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Live Commentary: Valencia 2-0 Real Betis - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's La Liga coverage as fourth-placed Valencia earn a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis at the Mestalla Stadium.
Live Commentary: Valencia 2-0 Real Betis - as it happened
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Valencia took on Real Betis at the Mestalla Stadium in La Liga on Sunday evening aiming to pick up three points and keep up the pressure on third-placed Real Madrid.

Marcelino Garcia Toral's charges found themselves in control at the break thanks to Rodrigo, who gave the hosts a 1-0 half-time lead after a sharp counter attack.

The Bats then cemented the three points early in the second half, as substitute Simone Zaza broke his 14-game goal drought to bag Valencia's second and earn a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Relive all of the action with our minute-by-minute updates below.

6.45pmGood evening everyone and thank you for joining us as we bring you live coverage of Valencia's clash with Real Betis at the Mestalla Stadium in La Liga. Marcelino Garcia Toral's charges will be looking for a home win here in order to cement their Champions League hopes and also put further pressure on third-placed Madrid. As for the visitors, ninth-placed Betis still have their eyes on the Europa League places this season.

6.46pmVALENCIA STARTING XI: Neto; Montoya, Paulista, Murillo, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Guedes; Santi Mina, Moreno

6.46pmVALENCIA SUBSTITUTES: Jaume, Vezo, Vietto, Zaza, Lato, Coquelin, Ferran

6.47pmREAL BETIS STARTING XI: Adan; Mandi, Bartra, Amat; Barragan, Garcia, Fabian, Junior, Camarasa; Loren, Joaquin

6.48pmREAL BETIS SUBSTITUTES: Boudebouz, Castro, Durmisi, Guerrero, Leon, Lopez, Tello

6.50pmSo the major news for Valencia fans is that both Goncalo Guedes and Carlos Soler return for the hosts on the flanks of a 4-4-2, while Santi Mina and Rodrigo Moreno lead the line up top.

6.53pmElsewhere, Ruben Vezo has dropped to the bench, with Martin Montoya starting at right-back tonight. The in-form Daniel Parejo and Geoffrey Kondogbia continue in the middle of the park.

6.55pmAs expected, Betis coach Quique Setien is continue with his new-look three-at-the-back approach as Jordi Amat comes into the centre of defence and Junior is shifted out as a left wing-back at the Mestalla.

6.55pmUp front, Loren features alongside Joaquin who are both to receive creative support from the likes of Fabian Ruiz and Victor Camarasa from a little deeper. Key men Andres Guardado and Antonio Sanabria continue to miss out through injury, though.

6.58pmValencia's form has certainly waned following a memorable start to this La Liga campaign. The club were unbeaten in the league until December 3rd when they lost 1-0 away at Getafe.

6.59pmThat promising start was scuppered by a truly horrific run of injuries and an infamous run of six defeats in a row in all competitions that ran through January and into February of this year.

7.01pmMost of last month proved to be a profitable period for Valencia, however, and they appear to be turning things around following a testing spell after the winter break. Since the club's loss to Barcelona in the second leg of their Copa del Rey clash, Valencia are now unbeaten in four games, all of which have been played in La Liga.

7.03pmThat run of four undefeated has seen Valencia pick up three victories and one draw. Tonight's game against Betis brings a three-game week to a close. Valencia have managed to pick up four points so far. Making it seven here would crown a near-perfect week for Marcelino's men.

7.05pmThe one sticking point recently was the draw in midweek away at Athletic Bilbao, but a point away from home in the Basque country is nothing to be ashamed of.

7.06pmBoth Daniel Parejo and Santi Mina have been influential of late, the latter's brace giving Valencia a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad at the start of the week.

7.08pmMina has really come to prominence recently and is now the club's leading scorer with 11 goals in 12 league appearances. As for Parejo, the playmaker has six goals and six assists in the league and has been a match-winner over the last month or so.

7.09pmMina, Parejo and Moreno, who has netted nine times in 21 La Liga showings, have been especially important given the fading fortunes of Simone Zaza.

7.11pmThe Italian frontman was in fine form during the opening three months of the campaign, scoring nine times in his first 10 La Liga games. He has now not scored in 14 games, however, last bagging a goal back in December.

7.13pmReal Madrid's defeat to Espanyol in the week has allowed Valencia to sneak back into the race for third. A win at home tonight would take Valencia to within just one point of Zinedine Zidane's charges.

7.15pmMarcelino has cause for optimism here too, given that Valencia's displays at the Mestalla have so far only seen the Bats lose just twice here this season.

7.17pmHere's a quick clip of the Valencia players arriving a little earlier this evening:

7.18pmThis ground has flourished with entertainment recently. There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Valencia's last four home games at the Mestalla.

7.19pmLooking ahead for Betis, Los Beticos have won four of their last five league matches away from home and have kept a clean sheet in three of them.

7.20pmSetien has made some changes to a three at the back with wing-backs recently and it seems to be paying dividends already as Betis aim to push for a late European place come the end of the season.

7.22pmConsistency has arguably been the major issue for Betis this term. The club's longest unbeaten streak in the league came back in September of last year with a run of four without defeat, winning three on the bounce and drawing the final one, before being beaten 6-3 by Valencia in the reverse of this fixture.

7.23pmThings are looking up approaching a key point in their season, though. Betis have picked up wins against Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna and Levante in February. The club's only loss last month came via a 5-3 humbling at the hands of Real Madrid.

7.24pmDuring those four games, Betis only conceded goals against Real, while keeping cleansheets in the other three victories.

7.27pmOne irritating thing for Betis will be the injuries to both Guardado and Sanabria, given that they could be influential in the club's hunt for a European spot. Prior to getting injured, Sanabria had been key with seven goals, while Guardado had provided six assists and two goals from midfield.

7.29pmOne key man that does feature here, though, is Joaquin, who has five assists and four league goals this season.

7.30pmA victory away from home would lift Betis level on 40 points with seventh-placed Girona, who have the better goal difference of the two sides.

7.32pmPREDICTION! Betis have been much improved of late and they should be able to provide a strong test for Valencia. The hosts, however, are unbeaten in four games and will fancy themselves at home. The home side have a number of players in form too and that should more than make up for the absences of both Andreas Pereira or Ezequiel Garay. Valencia should pinch all three points at the Mestalla. I'm backing them for a 2-1 win on home soil.

7.34pmThe recent records between the two sides paint a fairly close picture. There have been two wins, two draws and two losses for each team over their last six meetings in all competitions.

7.36pmBetis do have a woeful record at Mestalla, though, where they have lost 15 and won just one of 20 encounters with Valencia. That victory was more recent however and came courtesy of a 3-2 away win in the league in September 2016.

7.38pmEncounters between the two sides at this ground have offered plenty of goals. Valencia have actually scored at least two in eight of their last nine home games against Betis in all competitions.

7.40pmValencia playmaker Parejo has insisted that his side will benefit from a vocal crowd here this evening. Here's what he recently told the club's official website:

"At Mestalla, nobody can come and take whatever they want. Our fanbase has a significant role to play, we've got to get forward alongside the fans, creating a really positive atmosphere so that things go our way. Having the Mestalla crowd pushing us on will be really important for us. Our fans must know that they win games and give us points. They have to give us that extra, us first and then they've got to help us play along."

7.42pmWe are set for a pleasant evening in Valencia tonight with a few cloudy spells coming and going. Temperatures will be hovering around the 15 degree-Celsius region.

7.43pmJust a couple of minutes until kickoff now and here's a quick recap of the starting XIs:

VALENCIA STARTING XI: Neto; Montoya, Paulista, Murillo, Gaya; Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Guedes; Santi Mina, Moreno

REAL BETIS STARTING XI: Adan; Mandi, Bartra, Amat; Barragan, Garcia, Fabian, Junior, Camarasa; Loren, Joaquin

1 minKICKOFF! We are off and underway at the Mestalla with Betis getting things moving here. Hosts Valencia feature in white and black, while the visitors are in green.

3 minIt's a positive start for the visitors who break nicely with the run of Joaquin and he threads a lofted ball towards the back post for Barragan, who crunches a volley straight into the body of Murillo inside the box.

4 minValencia have been happy for Betis to see plenty of the ball in these opening exchanges. The hosts are pressing energetically and are aiming to work on the counter at the moment.

5 minThe home side are offered their first chance to break down the right through Solar, although his cross into the middle for Mina is a poor one, allowing Adan to come off his line and gather.

7 minKondogbia has been impressive of late and he is afforded a bit too much room in the middle of the park. The midfielder gets his head up and sprays out a pass for the run of Guedes down the left, but the effort is overhit and Betis settle for a goal kick. It's a reminder of the potential quality on the break in this home side, though.

9 minBetis wing-back Barragan finds space on the overlap on the right channel and he swings a ball into the middle. There's only Loren lurking, though, allowing Gabriel to head clear unchallenged inside the Valencia box.

11 minBetis are just starting to dictate the rhythm of proceedings now with some intricate passing. The next move is a little too sharp for Gabriel and he brings Loreno down just inside the home half. The visitors have been impressive in these opening exchanges.

12 minBetis make their first mistake of the night and soon the hosts shift the ball out into space for Soler. The winger whips in a cross for Mina, but Mandi does brilliantly to get up highest and head clear to avert the danger.

14 minGuedes has been fairly quiet but he soon springs to life with a driving run down the left channel, before eventually being stopped by a commanding sliding challenge from Mandi. The Valencia fans are just starting to urge their team to show a little more going forward here.

16 minThis has been a cagey encounter with neither side offering too much in the final third just yet. Betis have moved the ball cutely, but Valencia have been happy to sit off at times in order to work the counter.

18 minRodrigo peels off from inside the box and collects a throw from the right. The frontman aims to break past Amat with a deft flick, although the centre-back stands his ground and is able to make the clearance.

19 minGuedes has space to gallop into down the left and both Mina and Rodrigo waiting inside the box. The winger meets the ball with a half-decent cross, but once again Mandi is on hand to get up and head clear.

21 minSHOT! Parejo finally gets something moving with a wonderful chipped ball first time out to the left, where Guedes soon cuts inside to get a shot away. It's a poor effort and comes out of frustration at a lack of options, leaving Adan to make a comfortable save without having to move from the centre of his goal.


23 minFrom back to front in an instant! Betis break but they are dispossessed and centre-back Mandi is left isolated high up the pitch. Valencia switch the ball long from Guedes to Rodrigo, who stuns both Bartra and Amat with some wonderful movement and skill, before drifting wide on the edge of the area and bending an outstanding finish past Adan. A standout goal from the hosts, but you have to question the defence here.

25 minThe goal has lifted the spirits of the home side and they are now starting to bristle with energy. A forward move sees the ball fortunately bobble into the path of Kondogbia, who tries his luck from outside of the box with an effort that is always rising and soon sails over the bar.

27 minJunior finds himself in an advanced position down the left channel for the visitors and he comes inside to find space. Valencia afford it to the wing-back, who shoots tamely at Neto who responds with an easy save.

29 minIn a way Valencia have Betis right where they want them now despite not really moving beyond second gear. Betis will have to search for a goal at some point and that will likely leave them open to the break, which Valencia have thrived on all season long.

31 minGuedes and Gaya are starting to combine effectively over on the left, leaving the wing-back to earn a corner when trying to find room inside the box. The hosts can't make much of the set piece, though, as they opt to go short and are soon dispossessed.

33 minBetis have sought to speed things up a touch although they are struggling to keep the ball in the final third, allowing Valencia to mop up with ease. Kondogbia feeds the ball out to Gaya, who sends a cross from deep into the box where Mina and Rodrigo await. Adan reads it well though and comes out off his line to pluck the ball out of the air.

35 minShouts for a penalty from the hosts... The ball is switched quickly to Soler on the right, who crosses first time into the middle as Rodrigo seeks to gamble with a clever run. The striker goes down under pressure from Barragan, but the referee waves play on.

37 minSUBSTITUTION: Valencia are forced to make a change as Santi Mina finds himself on the deck. The forward seems to have pulled something and he is replaced by Zaza.

39 minIt's proving an industrious end to this first half, as Rodrigo goes in hard on Junior just short of the Betis box. The referee hasn't had too much today tonight but he'll have to keep a handle on challenges like that, however fair they look.

41 minValencia almost threaten with a second from a corner. The ball is whipped into the middle from the set piece, where Zaza of all people gets his head on it, only for the effort to cannon into a number of Betis bodies inside the area.

43 minBetis have drifted from this encounter despite starting with purpose. The hosts are in control now as they shift possession around inside the visiting half. Gaya breaks in down the left again and almost has the beating of Barragan, before he slips at the vital moment allowing the wing-back to make a clearance.

44 minZaza has shown plenty of endeavour since his introduction and his pressing almost allows the frontman to rob Junior on the edge of his half, only for the referee to blow for a free kick. The visitors were a little lucky there!

44 minYELLOW CARD! The first one of the game too! Barragan goes into the book for a poor lunge on Gaya with the full-back looking to clear his lines.

45+1 minYELLOW CARD! Valencia take one now as Montoya is booked for a great challenge on Junior in a dangerous position down the left. A rather soft decision from the referee...

45+2 minThe resulting free kick is a poor one, though, as Joaquin goes for goal from a tight angle despite a number of players in the box, leaving the effort to drift over the bar without troubling Neto.


8.35pmReferee Alejandro Hernandez blows his whistle to call time on a fairly decent first half at the Mestalla. It has been far from a classic here but there is plenty of tactical nouse on show and Valencia are just about deserving of their lead.

8.35pmRodrigo's brilliance on the break is the difference at the moment although you do have to question the defending for that goal, regardless of how sublime the finish turned out to be. Betis started this brightly too but have faded since going behind.

8.47pmBetis are looking to come out early now. They need to offer more going forward in the second half. They've seen plenty of the ball but have been ineffective in possession.

8.48pmWill Betis try to change their shape in the second period? No changes just yet for either side as the players emerge back out onto the pitch.

46 minSECOND HALF! Here we go then, the second half is underway...


47 minHe has done it! Zaza scores his first goal since December to break a 14-game barren run for the club. Valencia have a chance in the box although Adan makes a strong save. The ball is cleared as far as Kondogbia who then produces the cutest of chips in behind the defence, allowing Zaza to move in unmarked and slot a cool finish under the body of the Betis stopper.

49 minCHANCE! Zaza is causing real issues now with some more brilliant movement. The striker spearheads a quick counter and finds himself bearing down on goal, before hitting the deck under the challenge of a retreating Junior. Again the referee isn't buying it, although there is no call for a dive or foul either way.

51 minBetis have it all to do now and they appear a touch shellshocked after the second. Gaya does well deep inside his own half to buy a foul off Barragan and earn Valencia a positive free kick just when some danger is looming.

53 minJoaquin has been playing off Loren and it's not quite working. Betis need another striker on here if they want to be able to hold up the ball and move forward with any effect in the second half. This is a touch too easy for the home defence at the moment.

55 minZaza gets back to help out his teammates on the edge of the Valencia box, but then gives away a cheap foul on Loren in a dangerous position.

57 minSAVE! Joaquin is the man standing over it and he uses the ball as a decoy to bend a smart effort down low towards the bottom corner, where Neto somehow reacts late to make a strong diving save.

59 minSUBSTITUTE: Betis make a change as Barragan comes off at wing-back and on comes Francis Guerrero to take his place over on the right.

60 minCLOSE! Betis think that they might just have a chance to pull one back when the ball is fed quickly into the path of Joaquin in the box. The playmaker finds himself with just the keeper to beat from close range, although Neto pulls off another stunning stop before the referee blows for offside.

62 minThe visitors are just offering signs of confidence going forward and for the first time tonight Valencia look a little under pressure. Montoya brings some calm over at right-back, though, as he jumps to head clear a searching cross-field ball from Joaquin.

64 minValencia have shown little appetite to go forward since the second goal and they seem keen to sit back and hand Betis the ball. The visitors have had more purpose in the second period but still there is very little goal threat from Setien's men.

66 minAnd here they come... Valencia spring to life on the counter where the ball is soon slipped into Guedes to break free down the left. The winger covers good ground, but is soon thwarted by an excellent interception from substitute Francis, who tracks back to make a great recovering challenge.

68 minSUBSTITUTION: It's time for another sub and it's still not the complete attacking one we want to see. Ruben Castro comes on in place of Camarasa in the middle.

69 minSHOT! Betis are slightly running out of ideas in the final third and Joaquin takes out his frustration from range, sending a tame effort straight into the arms of Neto in the middle of the Valencia goal.

71 minSHOT! Gaya goes close now with a teasing shot from range, which whistles just wide of the post with Adan looking beaten. Again that came from a quick break from the hosts.

74 minCLOSE! Betis have the ball in the net only to have the goal chalked out by the referee. A cross comes into the box and Montoya makes a meal of things and allows Neto to get caught under the ball. The loose ball is headed into the net, only for the referee to penalise Loren for a supposed foul on the home stopper...

76 minThat was a tough call for the referee and on another night that goal might have gone in Real's favour. That could have changed the game too what with the best part of 15 minutes still left to play.

78 minCLOSE! This is starting to open up now as Valencia rattle down the other end at pace, where the ball is switch towards the back post on the break for substitute Coquelin. The Frenchman opens up and lashes an effort towards the far corner, which is tipped around the post brilliantly by Adan.

80 minWe are now into the final 10 minutes... Betis continue to have plenty of the ball in the Valencia half, but the hosts are more than comfortable just sitting off and marshalling the away side.

82 minSUBSTITUTION: And about time too. Cristian Tello enters the fray and Betis finally have another striker on the pitch!

84 minSUBSTITUTION: Marcelino is trying to eat up a bit of time here and he now introduces Ferran Torres who replaces Rodrigo up top.

86 minFerran Torres almost makes an instant impact as he breaks away on the counter, only to be upended by Mandi who makes a good recovering tackle to win the ball.

88 minCastro has done well since his introduction and he shows great movement to turn and shoot into the side netting, although the referee has already blown for offside. This is all coming a little too late for the visitors. They should have gone for this earlier.

90 minWe are going to have four minutes of additional time at the Mestalla...

90+2 minThe away side are still getting bodies forward and are going for at least a consolation. The quality in the final third has clearly been the major difference here, though. The home side have been clinical.

90+3 minThis is looking like a job well done for Marcelino and company, who have barely given the visitors a sniff, ignoring that one testing free kick from Joaquin and the talking point surrounding that disallowed goal. That might have changed things, but Valencia have been in total control for most of tonight.


9.41pmA fairly easy win for Valencia in the end, who were nothing short of clinical at home tonight. The hosts never really had to get moving and were comfortable for most of the evening. Marcelino's men proved too clinical and Setien arguably left things far too late to impact the game in the final third. Valencia are now just one point behind Real Madrid in third and will be feeling confident about securing some sort of Champions League football next term. That's going to be all from me tonight, thanks for joining us!

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