Valencia CF's second straight impressive home UEFA Champions League performance brought them an emphatic and vital victory against KRC Genk and set up a tense Group E finale.
Roberto Soldado was the architect of Valencia's 4-0 half-time lead, scoring a 26-minute hat-trick to add to Jonas' tenth-minute opener. Further strikes from Pablo Hernández, Aritz Aduriz and Tino Costa took the Spanish side within one goal of a record-equalling UEFA Champions League win – but of more relevance was that the result moved them level with Chelsea FC, their matchday six opponents. Then another win, or a scoring draw, will take Valencia into the round of 16 at their opponents' expense.
From the outset the home side played with pace, intent and authority. For a few moments it looked like the night might belong to Jonas, scorer of the second fastest UEFA Champions League goal on matchday four who recently opened his account for Brazil. The forward continued his rich vein of form ten minutes into this sumptuous display, nodding Costa's perfect cross past László Köteles.
Three minutes later it was Jonas' sweeping pass that created the second for Soldado, who turned Khaleem Hyland and dinked the ball beyond Köteles. The drums at either end of the stadium seemed to be thumping out a samba beat, but then the Spaniard rather took over, taking his record to 25 goals in his last 26 matches in all competitions.
Costa played a major role in Soldado's second goal on 35 minutes, his quick free-kick catching Genk unawares and allowing Jonas to play in the centre-forward for another cool finish. The striker soon completed his treble as Sofiane Feghouli's shot deflected to Pablo, who instantly saw Soldado well placed and set up more acclaim from the adoring Mestalla crowd.
Despite being beaten four times inside the first 40 minutes, Genk goalkeeper Köteles performed creditably, denying Costa with two leaping saves. The Valencia barrage simply did not stop, even when Soldado departed to a hero's ovation just before the hour having also scraped the post with a flicked header.
Unai Emery's substitutes Pablo Piatti and Dani Parejo drew more fine saves before the home coach's final replacement, Aduriz, added a bullish sixth after Pablo's right-footed shot made it 5-0 with 22 minutes left. Icing was put on the cake with a fine seventh from Costa after his one-two with Aduriz. Valencia will head to Stamford Bridge in a fortnight with progress in their sights.
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