Yunus Musah’s experimental transition to Valencia’s front line yielded tepid results, while Matthew Hoppe and Mallorca joined Matt Miazga’s Alaves in La Liga’s bottom three.
Athletic Bilbao 0 – 0 Valencia
With Hugo Duro left off of the roster and Goncalo Guedes dropped to the bench, Valencia head coach José Bordalás opted to pair the American international Musah atop the attack together with Maximiliano Gomez.
While neither player produced any fireworks in place of the usual starters, the team still did well to come away from Bilbao with a hard-fought draw against a team that held the upper hand for vast swaths of the game.
Even though Musah didn’t attempt a single shot or directly set up any chances during his 66 minutes on the field, he acquitted himself well in the experimental role, completing 83% of his 18 passing attempts amidst 34 total ball contacts, beat opposing defenders on all four dribble attempts, was only dispossessed twice, and won six of his ten duels.
Valencia were generally dominated by their hosts, and were perhaps lucky to have come away with a draw. Athletic Club held close to 60% of possession, outshot their guests by a ten to four margin, and created four close calls, all of which went to nought.
Indeed, the best performance on the field was made by Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, who made five saves to keep his team in the game. His first came just past the 21-minute mark when he dove to block a shot by Raúl García, and he was active until the final moments, when he blocked a header from Iñaki Williams to secure the draw.
Perhaps the greatest moment of drama in the otherwise drab game came in the eighth minute of added time when Valencia halftime substitute received a second yellow of the half for a hard foul on Iker Muniain, and was subsequently sent off, leaving his team a man down for the final seconds.
With no mathematical chance of either reaching the European qualification spots or falling into the relegation zone, Valencia will try to motivate themselves for their last three contests, beginning with a visit from Real Betis on Tuesday evening.
Matthew Hoppe didn’t make it off of the Mallorca bench on Saturday as they were smashed at home by Granada by a 6-2 scoreline. The loss in this six-pointer drops Mallorca back into the relegation zone, where they are two points below the surface with only three games left to make up the difference.
Matt Miazga was stuck on the Alaves bench for their 4-0 loss at Cela Vigo on Saturday. They are back in last place with three games left to play, and could already be mathematically relegated on Wednesday when they host Espanyol.
Sergiñno Dest is injured and missed Barcelona’s 2-1 road win over Real Betis. They could lock up second place on Tuesday when they host Celta Vigo.
Shaq Moore and Samuel Shashoua will hope for playing time on Monday night when Tenerife visit Girona.