Champions League - Seventh heaven for Valencia

Wed, 23 Nov 21:43:00 2011

Roberto Soldado scored a 26-minute hat-trick as Valencia recorded their best ever Champions League result, thrashing Racing Genk 7-0 at the Mestalla.

2011-12 Champions League Valencia Roberto Soldado - 0

The striker scored all three of his goals before half-time after Jonas had broken the deadlock in the 10th minute.

The away side felt they were denied a clear penalty with just six minutes on the clock, but soon found themselves out of reach with things getting worse in the second half courtesy of Pablo Hernandez, Adruiz and Alberto Costa.

Only the superb shot stopping of Hungarian keeper Laszlo Koteles prevented the score from reaching double figures, but nonetheless Genk have now been eliminated from European competition this season, unable to even make the Europa League-assuring third place in Group E on match day six.

Knowing their European survival was on the line, Genk went into the game with a nothing-to-lose mentality and looked to take the match to their much-fancied hosts.

That may have ended up being the case had French official Tony Chapron spotted the clear foul on Thomas Buffel by Victor Ruiz as the attacking midfielder looked to get on the end of a clever chip into the area by Daniel Toszer.

Four minutes later and things went from frustrating to worse for the Belgian side when Jonas headed home the opening goal from a neat cross in from the right by Costa.

The goalscorer turned provider three minutes later to cut the Genk defence to ribbons with a superlative pass which set Soldado free to slot home goal number two.

Costa and Jonas forced a fine pair of saves from Koteles halfway through the first period before the visitors finally began to threaten to find a way back into the game following the half hour mark.

Fabien Camus had a decent effort parried by Diego Alves before Anthony Vanden Borre fired wide of the far post following good work from Buffel, but moments later the lead became insurmountable.

Jonas added another assist to his name with a clever quick free-kick which put Soldado through on goal once more to add another goal to his, lifting his effort over the outrushing Koteles.

And three minutes later Soldado completed the treble on 39 minutes, tapping in a Pablo Hernandez cross at the far post after the initial shot from Sofiane Feghouli was closed down.

Genk looked to stop the rot in the second half, and with Koteles continuing his fine form with good stops from Pablo and substitute Daniel Parejo, it looked as if Mario Been’s side may do just that.

But that hope was crushed on 68 minutes when Pablo, moments after taking the armband from the withdrawn Soldado, tucked a lovely curling 18-yarder just inside the far post to make it five.

Within three minutes of yet another restart, it was the man who came on for Soldado to next scribble his name on the scoresheet, Aduriz capping off an impressive dribble into the area by holding off two defenders and poking home Valencia’s sixth.

Replacement defender Mohamed Sarr almost scored a spectacular own goal with 13 minutes remaining when his diving headed clearance of a Jonas cross came back off his nearby upright.

And after Koteles had once again come to the rescue with saves to deny Adruiz and Jonas in quick succession, Costa tucked home number seven from the rebound of the latter to leave the Hungarian arguably wondering why he was trying so hard.

Nonetheless, he continued to shine with saves to thwart Adruiz and fellow sub Pablo Piatti in the dying embers to possibly become the first goalkeeper to concede seven whilst simultaneously shortlisting himself for man of the match honours.

Though Unai Emery’s side remain in third behind Chelsea on goal difference, qualification to the knockout phase is now very much in their hands in two weeks’ time following the Londoners’ last-gasp defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

Liam Happe / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account