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Jonas sets Valencia on way to Leverkusen win

Published: Tuesday 1 November 2011, 22.55CET
Valencia CF 3-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Jonas scored the second fastest UEFA Champions League goal, Roberto Soldado and Adil Rami adding further strikes to secure a crucial Group E win.
by Graham Hunter
from Mestalla

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Published: Tuesday 1 November 2011, 22.55CET

Jonas sets Valencia on way to Leverkusen win

Valencia CF 3-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Jonas scored the second fastest UEFA Champions League goal, Roberto Soldado and Adil Rami adding further strikes to secure a crucial Group E win.

Jonas scored the second fastest goal in UEFA Champions League history to set Valencia CF on the way to a crucial Group E victory, although the Spanish side needed second-half strikes from Roberto Soldado and Adil Rami to see off the challenge of Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

With just over ten seconds on the clock Jonas calmly capitalised on a weak clearance from visiting goalkeeper Bernd Leno to curl in a welcome confidence boost for the home team as they sought their first win in this season's competition. Those prospects suffered a jolt when Stefan Kiessling headed Leverkusen level before the break but, despite Michael Ballack's stellar performance in the visiting midfield, Soldado restored Valencia's advantage midway through the second period before Rami made sure of the points.

For Leno the game could not have started more inopportunely. When Manuel Friedrich passed back to the keeper, Leno sliced straight to Jonas. The Brazilian still had work left to do but curved a sublime left-footed effort into the bottom corner of the net.

For a while the stadium was a cauldron of noise and Valencia streamed around the pitch in a blizzard of white. However they made the grave mistake of giving freedom to Ballack, sporting a black protective face mask. Playing between the lines of midfield and attack, the 35-year-old saw every option and moved so cleverly that he seemed to have more time than everyone around him.

Initially Ballack's main task was turning the tide. He did that so effectively that by the time Diego Alves made an admirable full-length save from Ömer Toprak's 17th-minute header Leverkusen were on top. Full reward came just past the half-hour as Ballack's perfectly measured cross exposed Víctor Ruiz and Kiessling headed his first UEFA Champions League goal.

That followed the pain of Éver Banega's damaged knee, which forced a Valencia reshuffle with only 24 minutes gone. Only Alves prevented things going from bad to worse, tipping over a 39th-minute thunderbolt from André Schürrle.

The balance swung again after half-time, however. Despite Leverkusen maintaining a quicker tempo and appearing in control Valencia turned the tables. Jérémy Mathieu powered down the left in the 65th minute and Soldado just managed to get ahead of Michal Kadlec to flick the ball under Leno.

Banega's replacement Tino Costa tried his luck with a 73rd-minute shot but was more accurate moments later. The Argentinian's corner dropped nicely for Rami to stoop and glance a header past Leno. Pablo Piatti nearly added a fourth in the final seconds, but a rousing night for Valencia was already complete.

Last updated: 27/11/12 10.18CET

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