Man of the match: Vincente Guaita’s save on Cristiano Ronaldo was his match’s standout moment, the Valencia `keeper getting a left palm to a shot headed for his lower-left hand corner. Two other great second half saves (both on Karim Benzema) along with dominance of his six-yard box in the match’s final moments helped Guaita complete the first shutout of Real at the Bernabeu since Victor Valdes kept a clean sheet on Apr.27, 2011.
Packaged for takeaway:
- This wasn’t a matter of a team coming to the Bernabeu and holding on for dear life. While Valencia let Real Madrid dictate play, they had a clear plan. Higher up the pitch, Los Che were going to run until they dropped (with Pablo Hernández and Jeremy Mathieu providing seemingly scripted reinforcements for Pablo Piatti and Sofiane Feghouli near the hour mark). At the back, they were going to stay compact and force Real Madrid to beat them from distance or by cross (in an approach not dissimilar to what Carlo Ancelotti did to Marseille).
- Even though Real Madrid had plenty of chances to win, Valencia’s plan worked. Los Blancos certainly had fewer clear chances than they’re used to generating, with the virtues of Valencia’s approach most evident in the 76th minute. Then, Ángel Di Maria was unable to blast a 22-yard shot through a crowded area, the block coming out to Marcelo roughly 34 yards from goal. It was a play we’ve seen so many times before – the ball sent right back in over a defense caught pushing up – but Real didn’t have the kind of penalty area presence to take advantage of it. While Marcelo’s cross for the back post was poor, Karim Benzema was seen cutting off his run, fading the right of the area.
- And Benzema should have won this match in the 78th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo fed him a perfect ball near the spot, and while Guaita came quickly, most of the goal was there for the taking. Instead, Benzema’s attempted chip went straight to the Guaita, keeping it scoreless.
- By the end of the match, Valencia was creating the better chances. Jeremy Mathieu had an open shot from 18 yards out in the 72nd minute. Aritz Aduriz had another chance minutes later with a header, and in the 85th minute, Iker Casillas had to come off his line to save Real’s point when Jordi Alba was put in behind Alvaro Arbeloa and Pepe. With Roberto Soldado brought on for the last 15 minutes, Valencia had the pieces to craft the upset.
- Whereas Unai Emery looked like he had a precise plan for the match, José Mourinho seemed to be tinkering. He started both Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain together – a rarity. By the end of the match, he had all of Benzema, Ronaldo, Di Maria, Kaká, and Jose Callejon on (along with Xabi Alonso and Marcelo). That kind of kitchen sink approach has worked before, but tonight it contributed to the feeling Real Madrid was as likely to lose as win.
- The draw leaves Real Madrid up four in La Liga, Barcelona sitting second with 75 points. Valencia point leaves them one up on Levante in third, but with first-place Malaga hosting Racing Santander in Monday, Los Che would find themselves in fourth by the time Rayo Vallecano visiting on Wednesday.
SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.
The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.
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Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.
Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.
Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.
Gotze, 24, scored the 113rd minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
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With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:
“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.
“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.
Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.
Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.
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A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.
The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:
The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.
The United States U-20 men are on the precipice of the U-20 World Cup after beating Mexico 1-0 on Monday, scooping their first win against El Tri in 31 years.
Brooks Lennon continues to look the part for the U.S. ahead of his loan season from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake.
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The youngster sent in this free kick that Erik Palmer-Brown, himself a loan man at Porto from Sporting KC this year, headed into the Mexico goal courtesy of a back post defender who opted for his right leg over a decent clearing attempt.
The U.S. took that lead into halftime.
Things got chippy as the second half unfolded, with referee Melvin Matamoros turning a blind eye to a few clattering tackles.
Tab Ramos subbed NYCFC prospect Jonathan Lewis into the match, and he sprung a counterattack that should have put the match to bed. But Lewis’ through ball missed FC Dallas’ Coy Craft and the latter took too much time, frittering away the chance.