Real Madrid struggles with Valencia
MADRID, Spain ● La Liga champion Real Madrid began the new campaign with a 1-1 draw with Valencia after Jonas canceled out Gonzalo Higuain’s early strike at the Bernabeu on Sunday.
Valencia, which finished third last season, was well worthy of a point and should have had three but Roberto Soldado’s second half strike was wrongfully ruled out for offsides.
Jose Mourinho revealed his disappointment and stated that, though it was not good enough, it was sufficient for three points on the night.
“I expected more from my team. Last season it was [Vicente] Guaita [who kept the game as a draw] and this year it was Diego Alves. We did not have a great game but we did more than enough to win,” Mourinho said in his post-match press conference.
“Alves was the best, he made some very good saves. If we had played better we would have created more chances.
“We always want to win. We are not content with draws. We could not lose this match because the opponent did not create chances.
Madrid travels to Camp Nou to face Barcelona in the Super Cup for the first Clasico of the season on Thursday evening, but Mourinho insisted he was more interested in the well being of Pepe, who was withdrawn with injury during the game.
“I worry about Pepe, not the Super Cup. It is just a game and I want a player who is well.”
Madrid, which has not made any new signings so far this summer, lined up largely as expected, though Lassana Diarra was preferred to Sami Khedira and Higuain chosen ahead of Karim Benzema.
In his first match in charge, former Valencia center half Mauricio Pellegrino elected to start recently acquired trio Andres Guardado, Joao Pereira and Fernando Gago, with fellow new arrivals, Jonathan Viera and Nelson Valdez on the bench.
The champions made a bright start and after both Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria came close early on, Higuain gave the home side the lead with just 10 minutes on the clock.
A wonderful ball over the top of the Valencia backline from Di Maria found the Argentina striker, who, after being denied twice by goalkeeper Diego Alves, thundered a powerful effort into the top right hand corner from inside the area.
Against the run of play, Valencia leveled four minutes before the break when Tino Costa’s wonderfully whipped free kick from the right was met by Jonas, who headed home.
The Brazilian outjumped Xabi Alonso, Pepe and Iker Casillas, with the latter two clashing heads.
Both were left dazed by the incident, with Pepe needing a bandage to cover a gash and the Portuguese was replaced at the break by former Valencia defender Raul Albiol.
The home side was let off the hook when early in the second half a through ball inside his own half by Costa found an unmarked Roberto Soldado.
The striker ran through the middle unchallenged before rounding Casillas and sliding the ball in the net only for play to be brought back for offsides, though replays showed the 27-year-old was onside when the ball was played.
Substitute Benzema forced a good save from Alves with 10 minutes left, but Valencia was well worth a draw as the home side struggled to create chances.