Copa del Rey: Valencia 4 Levante 1
Valencia cruised to a comfortable 4-1 victory over their city rivals Levante in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final clash.
After Jonas opened the scoring at the Mestalla on Thursday midway through the first half, Roberto Soldado added a second with 31 minutes played.
Levante clawed a goal back with a terrific strike from Arouna Kone, but Pablo Piatti's goal before the break killed off the tie and Tino Costa added a fourth in second-half injury time.
Valencia assumed control of possession from the opening whistle, continually switched the ball between the wings as they looked to create space for Soldado and Jonas.
Their hard work eventually drew rewards as Soldado regained possession in the opposing half, initiating a counter-attack.
He found Pablo Hernandez, who timed his pass perfectly to slip in Jonas as he made a diagonal run into the box.
The Brazilian striker squeezed a shot underneath Keylor Navas to open the scoring on 24 minutes.
Valencia doubled their lead just seven minutes later. Pablo provided yet another dangerous cross from the right wing which Javi Venta failed to clear, and Soldado was on hand to slam an opportunistic volley home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Levante were still yet to settle and had struggled to formulate anything noteworthy in attack, but that did not blunt the striking instinct of Arouna Kone.
With eight minutes of the first half remaining, the Ivorian took advantage of Pallardo’s loose control, producing a spectacular snapshot from 20 yards that soared into the top-left corner to give Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves no chance.
Valencia were not through, however, and restored their two-goal advantage in first-half stoppage time.
Pablo, influential for much of the contest, played a delightful ball to Piatti at the back post. The Argentine beat Navas to the ball, lifting his effort into the net but taking a knock for his troubles.
After a swift Valencia counterattack in the opening minute of the second half, the game settled into a slower rhythm.
The hosts tightened up in defence but the game was to descend into a scrappy, ill-tempered affair late on.
With 10 yellow cards being shown in the space of 10 minutes, several Levante players lost their concentration.
Valencia almost scored a fourth goal, but Victor Ruiz hit the post with a header from a matter of yards out.
Down the other end, Kone was sent through on goal with just three minutes remaining and drilled a powerful effort at Diego Alves' near post.
Valencia countered in stoppage time and Tino Costa found space on the edge of the area. His shot took a wicked deflection off of Gustavo Cabral and looped into the net to secure a convincing victory.
Valencia hold a sizeable advantage ahead of the second leg at Ciutat de Valencia next Thursday.