Valencia and Milan fought out a prestigious pre-season friendly in Spain on Sunday evening in the Trofeo Naranja, which saw the home side take a 2-1 victory in their own tournament.
The stands will be full in one hour as the Mestalla Stadium is sold-out for Valencia-Milan tonight. pic.twitter.com/flnXmO7lIJ— Meytar Zeevi (@RossoneriBlog) August 17, 2014
Diego Lopez was making his AC Milan debut after moving from Real Madrid, but he was beaten in his own country by a long-range Paco Alcacer shot and another low effort from Rodrigo. He looked far from entirely convincing.
The first chances of note fell to the home side as they started the better side, dominating possession in midfield despite the two sides lining up in similar 4-3-3 systems. Dani Parejo looked to get on the ball centrally whenever possible and probe for passes into his attacking team-mates, with Andrea Poli and Sulley Muntari not really getting close to him.
Alcacer saw an effort drift wide, and Rodrigo tried to make room for a shot, while at the other end, Giampaolo Pazzini was offside when Stephan El Shaarawy found him in space from the left side.
As the game was settling and Milan were looking comfortable, Cristian Zapata played a terrible blind square pass straight to Alcacer, who promptly lobbed Lopez from 40 yards to open the scoring.
Milan stepped up their game as they searched for an equaliser, and it came their way courtesy of a direct free-kick from Keisuke Honda, the Japanese midfielder hitting a low effort which beat Diego Alves and flew in off the post, despite the protestations of the keeper over the taking.
From then until the end of the half, Valencia resumed control of the game, and Lopez twice fumbled easy catches, one leading to a chipped shot from Rodrigo which was cleared before the goal line by a defender. Soon after, though, Lopez found himself beaten for a second time in the match, Rodrigo this time skipping between two tame challenges to drill a low shot past Lopez at the near post.
Goal goal rodrigo, Diego Lopez poor goalkeeping https://t.co/l06QhfKdmj— TransferAgent (@TransferAgent01) August 17, 2014
The second half was far less incident-filled, with Valencia comfortably on top and looking to keep possession as often as possible.
The driving runs from Parejo and Gomes were the main feature, searching always to play diagonal passes for the wide forwards to run onto, but both Rodrigo de Paul and Sofiane Feghouli scuffed chances wide when one-on-one.
Honda hit a shot wide from range, and Jeremy Menez should have done better with a clear chance of his own, but by and large, Milan offered very little going forward until late in the game, when Yoel was forced into a brilliant fingertip save by Michael Essien's header.
Milan had more possession late in the game, but Valencia were the better side off the ball too and kept their shape well to take a fairly comfortable win.
Key Player Grades
Dani Parejo, VAL, MID: A
The Spanish midfielder controlled the game throughout, showing a good passing range but also the capacity to dribble the ball long distances quickly and break Milan's midfield lines.
On another day, he might have had a couple of assists as his own, such were his passes able to split Milan's defence.
Diego Lopez, ACM, GK: D
Former Real Madrid keeper Lopez should have done far better for the second Valencia goal, while he also dropped a couple of routine balls into the box and almost cost his side another goal.
On the other hand, he was hardly well protected by an average-looking defence and will quickly have to adjust to Milan's ability levels and game plan.
Paco Alcacer, VAL, FWD: B
Alcacer showed good movement at times and looked to find the gaps between full-back and centre-back whenever possible, giving his team-mates room to move into and pass through. His linkup play was solid, if unspectacular, but he took his goal extremely well from long range.
Postgame reaction will appear here shortly.
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