Two goals from Roberto Soldado set Valencia CF on course for a 3-0 victory over Rangers FC as the Spanish side leapfrogged their opponents into second place in Group C.
The striker took his tally to three UEFA Champions League strikes this season with an effort in either half, scoring with both feet. Only the brilliance of Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor kept the visitors in touch at times, though Steven Naismith was twice denied by the upright. Substitute Tino Costa wrapped up the win in added time to send Valencia two points above Rangers.
The Scottish side varied between 4-1-4-1 and 5-4-1 yet their play was attacking enough that, added to the hosts' patent intentions to flood forward incessantly, the game opened with thrills and never dulled. Juan Mata's early volley at the back post gave a sign of things to come as McGregor saved well.
It was imperative that Naismith augmented his harrying in midfield with support for lone striker Kenny Miller, and in the eighth minute he did just that. Turning David Navarro on the left touchline he sprinted forty metres, cut inside David Albelda and crashed a shot which, but for a fingertip from César Sánchez, could have hit the net rather than the far post.
Yet Valencia were dominant. Joaquín slid a pass for Aritz Aduriz to reach the byline, cut the ball back for Mata only for McGregor save brilliantly. It was all smooth, silky stuff; in contrast to the coarse action that pre-empted Soldado's opener on 33 minutes. McGregor came to punch a corner, met a tangle of players and as the ball scuffed off Madjid Bougherra's back the striker squeezed the ball in with his left foot.
Rangers clawed their way back into the match in the second period – more through Valencia's pursuit of a second goal than any greater endeavour from Walter Smith's team. It brought more thrilling stuff from McGregor and Mata headed wide, while at the other end the indefatigable Naismith stole possession to give Miller a firm shot on goal which César dealt with.
Then, with 19 minutes remaining, Soldado sealed it. Nipping past Saša Papac on the right, he played a precise one-two with Mata and powered his right foot shot under McGregor's dive. Naismith's late header off the post only hinted at what might have been for Rangers before Costa volleyed home.
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