Villa vanquishes Schalke
David Villa's second-half goal claimed a 1-0 win for Valencia in their opening group game at Schalke.
Last Updated: 18/09/07 11:13pm
David Villa's second-half goal claimed a 1-0 win for Valencia in their opening UEFA Champions League group game at Schalke.
Though the hosts controlled the match for long spells, the lively Villa added a clinical edge to a thoroughly professional performance from Valencia.
Kevin Kuranyi was always a menace in the air, although his grappling with a Valencia defender on two minutes, as he headed at Santiago Canizares, was deemed too physical by the referee.
The Schalke striker again demonstrated his aerial prowess on 18 minutes as he nodded Christian Pander's free-kick back across goal, which Canizares flapped at before the ball struck Gerald Asamoah on its way out.
Schalke enjoyed some joy down the flanks, with right-back Rafinha whipping in a cross on 29 minutes which Kuranyi headed past the post from just inside the box.
Kuranyi then had a great chance to put Schalke in front, but he drilled his low shot narrowly wide of goal following Asamoah's lay-off from a quickly-taken throw-in.
Valencia had been happy to slow the tempo down, but finally raised a stir on 35 minutes when the alert Villa latched on to a free-kick before poking a shot which was grasped at the second attempt by Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer.
Carlos Marchena blasted just over from 25 yards before half-time, while Canizares appeared intent on gifting Schalke the lead early in the second period.
Firstly, the veteran keeper came and missed a Pander free-kick, and secondly, he flapped at a corner and was thankful to Raul Albiol for blocking Jermaine Jones' volley.
Valencia hit Schalke with a sucker-punch on 63 minutes as Miguel's searching long ball caught the home defence napping as Villa nipped in, rounded Neuer and slotted the ball into the net.
Villa got in behind the home back-line again, only to shoot straight at Neuer, before Schalke had a fine chance to level on 82 minutes.
A corner was flung in from the left by Ivan Ratikic and Heiko Westermann - at fault for Villa's goal - headed wide when unmarked from six yards out.