Peter Lim's Valencia go top with 3-0 win
With Peter Lim's takeover and an unbeaten start to season, Valencia can dream of glory days again
(Paco Alcacer 31, Daniel Parejo 45, Pablo Piatti 56)
The steeply-banked terraces rise about 100 metres into the Valencian sky.
On its orange, white and black seats, which took the club three months to paint, the Valencianistas sang with fervour and intensity, as if their beloved team had already won the match.
It had not even started.
Mestalla Stadium, which at 91 years old is the oldest football ground in the Spanish top flight, was just getting ready for its first home match of the 2014/2015 La Liga season.
Their heroes duly obliged, notching a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Malaga yesterday morning (Singapore time) to go top of the league with four points after two games.
Valencia drew 1-1 with Sevilla on the opening day of the season.
Nuno Espirito Santo's men may drop from the summit once the other teams complete their weekend games, but it was the best possible start to the season the fans can hope for.
There's a fresh air of optimism among the fans, after watching their club go through several years of financial quagmire that threatened Valencia's very existence.
The dark clouds are set to go away, with Singaporean businessman Peter Lim set to officially take over the club in a few weeks' time.
The Valencianistas now eye a quick return to the glory days and, with more performances like the one against Malaga yesterday morning, it's not wishful thinking on their part.
Malaga's spirited defiance was short-lived, their fate sealed in the 27th minute when Sergi Darder was sent off for plunging his studs into the leg of Valencia captain Daniel Parejo.
Four minutes later, the home side drew first blood.
Up-and-coming striker Paco Alcacer, who earlier in the day was called up to the Spain national team for the first time, casually flicked home the opening goal to set his side on the way to victory.
The roar from the 43,000-strong crowd reverberated around the stadium, announcing to the city its first home goal of the 2014/2015 campaign.
Just before half-time, Parejo tucked in the second goal from the rebound after Malaga goalkeeper Carlos Kameni had saved his penalty.
The 2,000-odd fans at the Curva Nord, territory of the club's most hardcore fans, leapt off their seats as Parejo rushed towards them in celebration.
In that moment of sheer bliss, the players and fans became one.
The second half turned out to be a no-contest.
The fast-tiring Malaga no longer had the legs to match the hosts, and Pablo Piatti finished with a half-volley in the 56th minute to complete Valencia's win.
At the post-game press conference, Malaga coach Javi Gracia lamented his side's ill fortune.
He clearly believed Darder didn't deserve the red card, and that his side had a perfectly good goal disallowed, too.
But Valencia coach Santo was already looking to the future. He wanted another midfielder and a striker.
"The player who arrives will be a top star, a fantastic player who can bring magnificent things to our team," he said.
For a change, after years of selling their marquee players, Valencia can reverse the flow, thanks to the millions Lim will pump into the club.
An hour after the match ended, the stadium had cleared except for staff.
From the Grada de la Mar, the highest seats in the stadium, the sight of the city was one to behold.
Only when it was nearly empty could the letters - one each above the six lower entrances of the grandstand - be clearly seen.
It reads: T-O-R-N-E-M. It means "we're back".
Getafe 1 Almeria 0
Cordoba v Celta Vigo, Athletic Bilbao v Levante, Atletico Madrid v Eibar, Espanyol v Sevilla
Villarreal v Barcelona, Real Sociedad v Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna v Rayo Vallecano, Elche v Granada.
Valencia keen on cleverley
Valencia have reportedly made an offer for Manchester United's out-of-favour midfielder Tom Cleverley and intend to rival Aston Villa and Hull City for his signature.
United reportedly had accepted an £8 million ($16.6m) offer from Aston Villa for Cleverley on Friday, but the La Liga side are hoping to lure him to Spain.
The 25-year-old midfielder (above) has been linked away from Old Trafford for much of the summer, but his sale seems a near certainty now after he was not even named as a substitute against Burnley last night.
If United deem Valencia's offer acceptable, he will be free to choose between a move to Spain or staying in England.
Cleverley has a certain amount to prove after a series of under-par performances since breaking through at Old Trafford.
He has made 44 league appearances over the past two seasons, but appears to have regressed under the pressure of representing United rather than progressed.
Valencia are reinforcing their squad with the expected takeover of Singapore billionaire Peter Lim in the coming weeks and they obviously think that Cleverley can help them challenge for a Champions League spot.
They certainly did their chances no harm by going top of La Liga with a 3-0 win over 10-man Malaga yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Valencia's Paco Alcacer capped a memorable day after he was named in the Spain squad for the first time by coach Vicente del Bosque by scoring the opening goal.
Dani Parejo and Pablo Piatti also found the target as they took full advantage of the first-half dismissal of Malaga's Sergi Darder.
"It was special to be called up and I was like a kid celebrating. Then, on top of that, it has finished with me scoring a goal," said Alcacer at the Mestalla.
"It is important for me to keep my feet on the ground and work hard each day in training.
"I am only 21 years old and I still have a lot to improve on if I want to do well in the national team.
"Our (Valencia's) objective this season is to be strong at home and we are a team that have players with a lot of quality who have combined well together."
Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo said that his side deserved the victory.
"We were the better team even before they had (Sergi Darder) sent off," Santo said.
"The game was divided in that sense, but we controlled things well. I want to congratulate my players, but we have to keep working to adapt to my methods. It'll take time but this is a good start."
- Wire Services.