Sunday, January 11, 2009

3-3 at the Mestalla

"Puta! Puta! Puta! Puta!"

- the four stands of the Mestalla last night

It was clearly a dive. 

The Valencia player put out his arm and the Villareal guy went down like he'd been hit with a baseball bat. The referee pointed to the spot, though, and then the crowd started on the above chant. I remember what "putain" means in French, and if it correlates with the Spanish, I have to agree with their sentiments. 

Puta, indeed. 

It would be a cliche to say that it changed the course of the game, but it did. It went from a 3-2 win to Valencia to 3-3 with ten (?) minutes left on the clock. Valencia worked hard for the next five, ten minutes to get the winner, but it wasn't to be. Villareal closed shop, played for a draw, and got it. 

So 3-3 it finished. 

It was a very good game, though. Probably the best I've seen in my time here; it was fast-paced, attacking, real end-to-end stuff. It was like a Premier League game, but with two sides who can pass, dribble and who are committed to aesthetically pleasing football. The passing was polished, the movements were slick, and the players willing to dribble and take on the opposition. It was miles better than anything I saw in Italy, and (sentiment notwithstanding), a better spectacle than the Arsenal flogging a hapless Premier League club. 

If I had to be cruel, I'd say that Valencia deserved it. Every time they gained the lead, they sat back. They were 2-0 up in the first half after dominating possession, and then they conceded a goal in injury time. They lost the lead in the 75th minute, regained it three minutes later, and then sat back again. So something like this was going to happen. 

But it's better to be pleasant than cruel. And it was a very nice game of football. 

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