|First Division - Day 5|
Valencia 2 - Real Madrid 0
Cañizares; Curro Torres, Marchena, David Navarro, Carboni; Albelda
(Sissoko 87'), Baraja; Jorge López, Aimar (Oliveira 30'), Vicente; Mista
(Rufete 71'). 4-2-3-1.
Team changes: Valencia: David Navarro, Mista for Pellegrino, Oliveira / Madrid: Guti for Raúl.
Valencia moved to the top of the first division after beating rivals Real Madrid 2-0 in the last game on Saturday evening. Rafa Benítez's side knocked the league champions off their pedestal with a well organised display which stopped their opponents from scoring in a league match for the first time since last May. And a defeat for leaders Deportivo La Coruña earlier in the evening meant that they moved a point ahead of the Galicians into first place.
It was not football which dominated the news in the build up to the match though. Local thugs had set fire to the visitors dugout at the Mestalla stadium, and there were fears of crowd violence, which thankfully didn't happen. Ayala's frustrated transfer to Madrid was also in the headlines, and although he Argentine defender had resolved his differences and signed an improved contract, Benítez decided that this was not the game to bring him back. With Pellegrino injured as well, that meant that youngster David Navarro played alongside Marchena in defence.
The other change that the manager made was to play Mista in the striker's role after his good display the week before, and within four minutes he vindicated the decision when he turned Jorge López's cross past Casillas to put his side in front. And for the next half hour Valencia turned it on, inspired by a Pablo Aimar in a state of grace. However the Argentine midfielder had to leave the pitch with an injury, and although his replacement Oliveira did have a couple of chances later in the half, he was not able to hit the target.
Real Madrid were missing the injured Raúl, and with Helguera down with flu, Zidane carrying a knock and Beckham picking up an injury in the game they were not their usual selves. For a few minutes after the restart they did show some signs that they might equalize though, with Ronaldo finally losing Navarro only to have his shot blocked and Zidane curling his effort wide after a set piece free kick.
But the home side were clearly on top, and Baraja should have done better when he headed wide when unmarked in front of goal. A few minutes later they did get a second goal, Oliveira's first header being blocked by Pavón and Baraja's follow up shot being headed away by the fearless Roberto Carlos, but the ball rebounded to Oliveira who lashed it past Casillas from near to goal.