|First Division - Day 29|
Valencia 5 - Mallorca 1
Cañizares; Curro Torres, Ayala, Marchena (Pellegrino 76'), Carboni
(Aimar 76'); Rufete, Albelda, Baraja, Vicente (Canobbio 68'); Angulo, Mista.
Team changes: Valencia: Ayala for Pellegrino / Mallorca: Leo Franco, Edu Moya, Colsa, Correa for Miki, Poli, Marcos, Finidi.
Valencia closed the gap on Real Madrid to one point after thrashing Mallorca 5-1 on Sunday evening. The East coast side have caught up seven points on the leaders in the last three matches, and are looking good for a second championship in three years, Madrid, Barcelona and Deportivo permitting.
The home side were on top from the beginning, although Correa did have the first attempt at goal, his free kick sailing over the bar. After that though the visitors hardly ventured into their opponents' half, preferring to sit back and defend, which they did well for the first half hour or so. Gradually though Valencia started to find the gaps, and Leo Franco had to be at his best to save from Ayala's header. A minute before the break they finally broke through, Mista finishing off with a fine header in front of the hesitant Franco after Rufete and Curro Torres combined to set him up.
The goal meant that Mallorca were forced to come out after the restart, and that opened up the floodgates for Rafa Benítez's side who scored four times in twelve minutes. Baraja got ahead of the defence to touch in Vicente's free kick, and Angulo took a return pass from Mista to lift an excellent shot over the advancing keeper with the outside of his foot. And Mista added two more to complete his hat-trick and make it seventeen in the league this season, the first after good work down the left wing by Vicente and the second with a lofted header from Rufete's cross.
Benítez decided it was safe to give a run out to Aimar, who was returning from injury, and with one eye on next Thursday's UEFA cup game with Glençirlbirgli he rested some of his key players. Mallorca took advantage to score a late consolation, Eto'o converting a penalty after Rufete was ruled to have fouled Nené on the edge of the area. But by then it was all over, and the Islanders found themselves only one place and four points off the relegation spots at the end of the weekend.