Yunus Musah warmed up for USMNT duty by helping Valencia to a convincing win, while Luca de la Torre’s injury continued his absence for Celta Vigo in the last round of La Liga games before the long break.
Valencia CF 3 – 0 Real Betis
Less than one day after having his rightfully assumed place in the United States squad for Qatar formally confirmed, Yunus Musah put in a strong performance in Valencia’s midfield on Thursday night to help them storm past Real Betis.
Valencia head coach Gennaro Gattuso opted to deploy the American in the center of his three-man midfield, and it worked out well as Musah, along with his midfield partners André Almeida and Nico González, were able to completely stifle any forward push by their visitors.
The New York-born midfielder played 85 minutes before leaving in favor of Dimitri Foulquier, having 45 touches, completing 84% of his 32 passing attempts, and nearly getting onto the scoreboard in the first half.
In fact, Musah’s 31st-minute flurry was the highlight of the first half. Receiving the ball in a deep position from Eray Cömert, he cut past one Betis defender and evaded another to cut inwards, before lashing an 18-yard strike the ricocheted off the right upright.
The ball stayed in play and seconds later ended up at his foot at the top of the box, but this time his shot looped well wide to the left.
Just past the hour, the hosts were given major advantage that they did not waste, after Edgar González was shown a second yellow after a cynical trip just outside of his own area.
On the resulting free kick, Almeida perfectly targeted the upper left corner, putting his team into the lead with 30 minutes left and their opponents under severe duress.
This eventually worked to their advantage, as substitute Justin Kliuvert was tripped up on a run into the area in the 80th minute, allowing Hugo Guillamon to double the lead from the spot.
Kluivert then added one of his own deep into injury time, sneaking behind the Betis defensive line to receive a perfect pass from José Gayà, which he put away to the lower right corner for the final 3-0 scoreline.
The thumping win means that Valencia will enter the long break in tenth place, barely in the upper half of the La Liga standings. They will return to action in late-December when league play resumes with a trip to Villarreal.
Jonathan Gomez wasn’t in uniform with Real Sociedad’s first team on Wednesday night for their impressive, 2-1 road win over Sevilla.
Luca Koleosho didn’t make the roster for Espanyol on Wednesday in their narrow 1-0 hoem loss to Villarreal.
Luca de la Torre is still recovering from an injury and did not suit up for Celta Vigo on Thursday evening in their scoreless draw at Rayo Vallecano. His final chance to earn playing time before heading to Qatar to link up with the rest of his USMNT compatriots will be on Sunday when the team visits sixth-tier CD Algar in the Copa del Rey.