Valencia completed the double over Belarussian outfit BATE Borisov on Wednesday with a 4-2 win in Champions League Group F to stay level on points with pacesetters Bayern Munich, who crushed LOSC Lille Metropole 6-1.
BATE had made a bright start to the campaign, stunning group favorites Bayern on their way to winning their opening two fixtures.
However, they then came unstuck at home against Valencia and the Spaniards once again outfoxed them, taking the lead in the 26th minute at the Estadio Mestalla.
Brazilian striker Jonas Goncalves broke the deadlock, firing home on the turn after controlling a cross from Tino Costa.
Almost straight from the restart, it was 2-0, Roberto Soldado — who scored a hat-trick in the away match — converting from the spot after Denis Polyakov fouled Andres Guardado as the latter burst into the box.
Coach Mauricio Pellegrino has been struggling to conjure coherent league form from his Valencia side this season, but this success should propel them toward the last 16 in Europe.
Former Barcelona midfielder Aleksandr Hleb tried gamely to spark a riposte, but was unable to call on support from the suspended Alexander Pavlov as Valencia tightened their grip on proceedings.
Vitali Rodionov put an early effort wide for Viktor Goncharenko’s BATE, but the two goals took the wind out of the visitors’ sails as Valencia, finalists in 2000 and 2001, made it 3-0 six minutes after the restart.
Algerian Sofiane Feghouli slammed home after Fernando Gago cut through a tiring defense to find his teammate unmarked.
BATE did knuckle down to make a game of it as Renan Bressan converted for 3-1 just two minutes after Feghouli’s effort. Suddenly the Spaniards were sweating when Dmitri Mozolevski, on for Hleb, made it 3-2 in the 83rd minute with a tap-in from Rodianov’s pass as Valencia looked to be counting down the clock and cruising.
However, the hosts quickly snapped out of their complacency and Feghouli bagged his second goal of the night with four minutes remaining.