Valencia rise to top in Spain

Paco Alcacer (Getty Images)
Paco Alcacer (Getty Images)

Barcelona - Valencia remained undefeated and took the lead of the Spanish league on goal difference by beating Cordoba 3-0 on Thursday.

Valencia's fourth win in five rounds lifted it to the top of the table ahead of Barcelona and Sevilla on goal difference.

Striker Paco Alcacer headed in Valencia's 22nd-minute opener. Left back Jose Gaya added a goal four minutes later before Sofiane Feghouli rounded off the win in the 73rd.

After finishing last season in eighth place and missing out on playing in European competition this season, the team's turnaround has come under first-year Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

"Since Coach arrived, he has had a clear idea of what he wanted our playing style to be, and we have played that way from the very first game," Alcacer said.

Valencia's rise has also come in the midst of a drawn-out purchase by Singapore tycoon Peter Lim. Valencia made several signings this offseason that have immediately helped, such as defender Nicolas Otamendi and midfielder Andres Gomes, and it is still waiting for former Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo to recover from injury before he can debut.

Valencia controlled the match from the start at Mestalla Stadium, with Gomes dictating the pace.

Alcacer used an exquisite glancing header to redirect Feghouli's cross over the reach of goalkeeper Juan Carlos Corral and inside the far post.

"Sofiane's cross was spectacular, I only had to put my head there to make the ball go in," said Alcacer, who recently made his debut for Spain.

Gaya drilled in the second goal after Gomes made an incursion before losing the ball. Feghouli put the game out of reach for the visitors when he sent the ball in off the post.

Since drawing 1-1 in the first round, Valencia has scored three goals in each of its last four games, all wins.

Promoted Cordoba remained winless and in last place.

Defending champion Atletico Madrid was in fourth place, two points behind the top trio. Real Madrid was another two points behind in fifth.

Also, Espanyol beat Getafe 2-0 for its first under new coach Sergio Gonzalez.

After a drab first half with one scoring chance for each side, Getafe carried the weight of the attack after halftime and Espanyol needed goalkeeper Kiko Casilla to turn back Miguel "Michel" Alfonso in the 49th.

But Sergio Garcia put the hosts in control in the 66th when he volleyed Salva Sevilla's gently placed lob beyond goalie Vicente Guaita.

Substitute forward Christian Stuani sealed the much-needed win for Espanyol in the 82nd when he put in his own rebound.

Getafe went scoreless for the third straight game and recorded its fourth loss in five rounds.

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