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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 3 March 2021
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Valencia crank up the pressure on Man United as they go second in Group H

The La Liga side were too good for Swiss opponents, Young Boys, this evening.

Valencia forward Santi Mina celebrates his second goal.
Valencia forward Santi Mina celebrates his second goal.

Updated at 21.02

VALENCIA CRANK UP the pressure on Manchester United in Champions League Group H by beating Young Boys 3-1 on Wednesday as the Spanish side registered their first home win of the season.

Carlos Soler, the talented 21-year-old, teed up two Santi Mina strikes in the first half before finding the net himself to seal a rare win for a team whose season has so far been ravaged by draws.

Young Boys levelled when Roger Assale drove into the corner but parity lasted only five minutes, as Mina restored Valencia’s lead towards the end of the first half.

Any faint hopes of a Swiss comeback were dashed when Sekou Sanogo was sent off with 13 minutes remaining for a wild challenge on Francis Coquelin.

It was the culmination of a feisty encounter that featured five yellow cards in the first half alone, a record in this year’s tournament.

For Valencia, victory was all-important to their hopes of reaching the Champions League knock-out stage as they move one point above Manchester United, who play Juventus in Turin later on Wednesday. 

That trip awaits Valencia next but they will have the advantage of hosting Jose Mourinho’s side at the Mestalla in the final round of the group stage, if they can stay in touch that long.

After clinching fourth place in La Liga last season, victories and goals have both been hard to come by for Valencia this term.

They sit 15th in the league, with eight draws from 11 games, while in Europe, they had managed just one goal from 42 shots coming into this match. 

This was the first time they had scored three goals in a game since March.

 

- Generous Young Boys -

 

 

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Young Boys, however, were generous in defence, while Soler and Mina showed the sort of ruthlessness up front that has been so lacking in recent weeks.

The first goal came after 14 minutes as the lively Rodrigo Moreno picked out Soler’s darting run in behind. Soler did brilliantly to chip the goalkeeper but there was a hint of fortune in the ball rebounding back off the far post and landing perfectly for Mina to bundle home.

Young Boys looked dangerous on the break and Assale missed an excellent chance before taking a far more difficult one in the 37th minute. He rolled his studs over the ball before drilling it through the legs of Gabriel Paulista and into the far corner. 

Valencia quickly restored their advantage. Soler’s first-time cross caught the Young Boys defence by surprise and Mina poked into the net on the stretch.

The visitors should have pulled level again but Moumi Ngamaleu sidefooted high when free at the back post and Valencia made them pay after the interval. 

Soler skipped free after a neat one-two with Rodrigo and with no challenge, drove into the box, before unleashing a shot into the corner.

Valencia were home and dry but Sanogo made sure with a rash tackle on Coquelin that was high and mistimed. Coquelin was eventually able to continue as Valencia held on to boost their hopes of reaching the last 16. 

In the other early kick-off, Roma inched closer to a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over 10-man CSKA Moscow in the Luzhniki Stadium.

An early Kostas Manolas header and Lorenzo Pellegrini’s neat finish just before the hour mark gave Roma a win that puts them three points clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the top of Group G ahead of the European champions’ clash with Viktoria Plzen later on Wednesday.

Iceland midfielder Arnor Sigurdsson, meanwhile, was on target for CSKA.

The hosts had their tails up but were reduced to 10 men in the 56th minute Icelandic defender Hordur Magnusson was sent off for his second bookable offence after chopping down lively Roma winger Justin Kluivert.

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