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Gary Lim
Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014

Sports

La Liga: A new dawn beckons Valencia

The New Paper on Sunday | Gary Lim | Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014

Valencia's forward Paco Alcacer (R) celebrating with Valencia's Portuguese forward Andres Gomes after scoring during the Trofeo Naranja (Orange Trophy ) football match Valencia CF v AC Milan at Mestalla stadium in Valencia on August 17, 2014. His goal at the La Liga season comes after his maiden call-up to the Spain national side.

REPORTING FROM VALENCIA

VALENCIA 3

(Paco Alcacer 31, Daniel Parejo 45, Pablo Piatti 56)

MALAGA 0

The steeply-banked terraces rise about 100 metres into the Valencian sky.

On its orange, white and black seats, which took the club three months to paint, the Valencianistas sang with fervour and intensity, as if their beloved team had already won the match.

It had not even started.

Mestalla Stadium, which at 91 years old is the oldest football ground in the Spanish top flight, was just getting ready for its first home match of the 2014/2015 La Liga season.

Their heroes duly obliged, notching a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Malaga yesterday morning (Singapore time) to go top of the league with four points after two games.

Valencia drew 1-1 with Sevilla on the opening day of the season.

Nuno Espirito Santo's men may drop from the summit once the other teams complete their weekend games, but it was the best possible start to the season the fans can hope for.

There's a fresh air of optimism among the fans, after watching their club go through several years of financial quagmire that threatened Valencia's very existence.

The dark clouds are set to go away, with Singaporean businessman Peter Lim set to officially take over the club in a few weeks' time.

The Valencianistas now eye a quick return to the glory days and, with more performances like the one against Malaga yesterday morning, it's not wishful thinking on their part.

Malaga's spirited defiance was short-lived, their fate sealed in the 27th minute when Sergi Darder was sent off for plunging his studs into the leg of Valencia captain Daniel Parejo.

Four minutes later, the home side drew first blood.

Up-and-coming striker Paco Alcacer, who earlier in the day was called up to the Spain national team for the first time, casually flicked home the opening goal to set his side on the way to victory.

Roar

The roar from the 43,000-strong crowd reverberated around the stadium, announcing to the city its first home goal of the 2014/2015 campaign.

Just before half-time, Parejo tucked in the second goal from the rebound after Malaga goalkeeper Carlos Kameni had saved his penalty.

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