Luca de la Torre and Celta Vigo’s emphatic win over Real Valladolid was only tempered by a late injury for the American, while Yunus Musah and Valencia finally earned their first league win in more than three months.
Celta Vigo 3 – 0 Real Valladolid
A fine performance by Luca de la Torre and Celta Vigo pushed the Sky Blues further away from the relegation places, however all eyes will be on the American’s health after he departed late in the game with an apparent knock.
The USMNT midfielder kept his spot on the left side, making 37 touches over his 73 minutes, while completing 76% of his 25 passes, creating a pair of chances and most importantly, triggering Celta’s insurance goal with his lone shot of the game
A fine team effort saw Celta open the scoring in the 17th minute. A long stretch of possession ended with Hugo Mallo launching the ball from the right flank into the near side of the area. Gabriel Veiga headed the cross onwards towards the far post, where Haris Seferovic got his own head on it, sending it back towards the far post well outside of Sergio Asenjo’s reach.
Veiga then added one of his own just past the half-hour mark, taking advantage of a chaotic scramble into the area by Carles Pérez and subsequent collision with defender Jawad El Yamiq, slamming the momentarily loose ball into the left side of goal for the 2-0.
Moments after Celta midfielder Fran Beltrán was forced off due to injury in the 60th minute, the visitors thought they pulled on back when Selim Amallah struck from the edge of the six-yard box, however the team’s celebrations were spoiled by VAR after it was evident that Canadian attacker Cyle Larin was offside on the buildup by a wide margin.
Veiga then made sure that any remaining hopes of a come-back by their visitors were put to rest, scoring his team’s third in the 64th. Javi Galán found de la Torre at ten yards with a short cut-back pass from the left edge of the area.
While the American’s one-timed shot was barely kept out thanks to a spectacular, one-handed diving save by Asenjo, the ball landed at Veiga’s foot at six yards for an easy finish to wrap up the scoring.
Around the 70th minute, the American indicated some issue with his left leg, and eventually forced a stoppage in play after the sat down on the turf seeming to grab his thigh. This forced head coach Carlos Carvalhal to make the switch, however the USMNT player did leave the field under his own power without too much evident pain, possibly an indication of only a minor problem.
Amallah was then shown a straight red in the 84th minute for a hard, studs-up challenge on de la Torre’s replacement Franco Cervi in transition play, leaving both teams to play out the final minutes with no doubt about the result.
The victory brings Celta to 13th place in the La Liga standings, with a trip to 11th-place Osasuna awaiting on Sunday.
Valencia CF 1 – 0 Real Sociedad
Yunus Musah and Valencia finally broke their three-plus-month winless streak in league play, beating third-place Real Sociedad thanks to a first-half gift from their generous visitors.
Musah played 78 minutes on the right side of the midfield for new head coach Rubén Baraja, picking up his eighth yellow card of the season. While somewhat limited with just 25 touches and 11 completed passes in 15 attempts during his time, he did manage one shot while winning three of eight duels, and drawing one foul.
Real Sociedad left back Jonathan Gomez is still working primarily with their second team, and did not suit up. with the main squad.
While Valencia were hardly an attacking juggernaut in the game, with only 37% of possession and eight shots compared to their opponents’ 11, they did enough to keep a strong Real Sociedad squad off of the scoreboard, and ultimately came out on top thanks to a mistake by the opposition defense.
Just before the 40-minute mark, the hosts gained possession deep in their own area and started a counter. Toni Lato brought the ball into opposition territory and freed Samuel Lino into the left side of their area with a pass that caught The Brazilian in stride.
Lino attempted a cross in the direction of Musah and Hugo Duro, who had broken into the right side of the area, however defender Igor Zibeldia lunged in clumsily in an attempted clearance, instead poking the ball into his own net.
Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili was perhaps the most important player on the field for the winning side, making three saves while generally commanding his area with an authority that kept La Real from creating any openings.
The win helps Valencia to bubble up closer to safety, however they still trail 17th-place Valladolid by one point. Next up is a huge test of their newfound vigor under Baraja, a trip to runaway first-place Barcelona on Saturday.
Luca Koleosho did not participate on Saturday in Espanyol’s 2-1 home win over Mallorca.
After missing the last month due to injury, Samuel Shashoua entered Tenerife’s 1-0 road loss at Sporting Gijon as an 82nd-minute substitute. He only had eight touches during his time on the field, while managing no shots nor created chances. Tenerife are halfway between the promotion playoff and relegation positions with 13 games still to go. They next host Eibar on Saturday.