Valencia ended their preseason nicely by edging Serie A club AC Milan, as manager Nuno Espirito Santo made his debut for Los Che on home grounds.
The La Liga club faced tumult in ownership and finances last year, but with new owner, Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim taking the helm, and new signings Rodrigo, Nicolas Otamendi and Andre Gomes, the stage is solidified for Valencia’s brand new start, and they gave fans reason to cheer on Sunday.
In the 18th minute, the Valencia jumped out to 1-0 lead when 20-year-old Paco Alcacer boomed a 40-yard goal from Cristian Zapata’s off-target pass that landed on his feet.
However, Milan wouldn’t let the Spanish squad have the advantage for more than 10 minutes, when Kesuike Honda pinpointed a free kick score that dipped hard and bounced off the right post.
Rodrigo notched the game-winner in the 38th minute, zipping past two Milan defenders in the box and blasting a left-footer into the bottom of the net.
As is often noticed with preseason contests, the second half began, and there wasn’t that same vitality noticed in both sides during the first 45 minutes.
Alcacer came off for Sofiane Feghouli, and the substitute nearly supplemented his team’s lead, ripping a shot wide from 12 yards in the 68th minute. Milan midfielder Jeremy Menez had a great opportunity just outside the box, but his try couldn’t stay on frame.
Veteran Michael Essien crushed a header on net in the 78th minute, and goalie Yoel came up huge with an spectacular stop to finalize the victory for Valencia, who will open their regular season vs. Sevilla at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium on Aug. 23.
This was a good win for Valencia, and because this match about a week out from La Liga play, it makes sense to pay more attention to this one than previous preseason games. In May, Sevilla and Valencia clashed in the Europa League semi-finals, and Sevilla advanced, a higher tally of away goals seeing them to the finals on a 3-3 aggregate score.