Valencia CF, fielding a second-string eleven, defeated Spartak Moskva 3-0 at the Mestalla stadium in this UEFA Champions League Group B encounter, thanks to two goals from striker Juan Sánchez and a late Fabio Aurelio free-kick. The resulted meant the visitors became the third team who have failed to notch a single point in a Champions League campaign.
Valencia were guaranteed to finish top of Group B no matter what the result, and coach Rafael Benítez used the match as an opportunity to give some of his fringe players a chance to impress. Spanish international striker Salva was given a rare start alongside Argentinian winger Kily González.
No mood for defeat
However, Valencia were in no mood to be beaten, and the hosts dominated the first-half possession. Despite keeping the ball for long spells at a time, they struggled to create any clear-cut chances against a stubborn Spartak defence, admirably marshalled by the veteran defender Yuri Kovtun.
If Kovtun was impressive in defence, Spartak were short of inspiration going forward. Vladimir Beschastnykh looked composed as he tried to orchestrate the play for the visitors, but Spartak threatened only sporadically.
Excellent through ball
Valencia went close to taking the lead on 17 minutes as Mista picked out Sánchez. The diminutive striker hit his shot well, but it came back off Maxym Levitsky’s right-hand post.
Sánchez was not to be denied however, and it was his header, on 38 minutes, that gave Valencia a deserved lead. Angulo seized on to a short free-kick and his curling cross from the right was met by Sánchez at the near post, who glanced a downward header into the net.
Sánchez strikes again
Spartak desperately needed to alter things after the break, and coach Oleg Romantsev brought on Brazilian midfielder Silva to try and add some spark to his struggling side. The change did not have the desired effect, however, as Valencia immediately doubled their lead. Fabio Aurelio’s pass from the left picked out Mista in the area. The Valencia playmaker then cut the ball back for Sánchez, and he doubled his tally, shooting firmly past Levitsky from ten metres.
The two-goal cushion gave the hosts the luxury of being able to play expansively, and Spartak soon looked overrun. Mista was at the heart of a succession of slick passing moves, and Spartak were reduced to damage limitation.
Sánchez almost completed his hat-trick on 75 minutes. Javier Garrido’s fine overlapping run resulted in a low cross across the face of goal and Sánchez's elegant back-heel deceived Levitsky, but drifted wide of the far post.
Valencia finally grabbed their third on 78 minutes. The hosts had won a free-kick on the very edge of the area and Fabio Aurelio, the only regular first-team player to start, drilled a low left-footed free-kick at goal. Levitsky, as if to sum up Spartak's Champions League campaign, could only palm the ball into his own net.