Valencia tightened their grip on third place in the Primera Division as they survived a late fightback to claim victory at Rayo Vallecano
Jonas Goncalves started the scoring in the 7-0 romp over Genk in the Champions League on Wednesday and the Brazilian got the ball rolling again for Unai Emery’s side with a fine strike from 25 yards after 20 minutes.
Diego Alves was forced into saves from Alejandro Arribas and Andrija Delibasic either side of the break to preserve the lead, but Tino Costa made sure of the points with a trademark finish at the end of a flowing Valencia counter-attack 10 minutes into the second half.
Substitute Raul Tamudo pulled one back for the hosts with four minutes remaining but Valencia held on to stretch their advantage over fourth-placed Levante to four points.
Emery made five changes from the side that started against Genk in midweek but decided against resting Jonas, a decision that paid dividends when the Brazilian opened the scoring.
Jeremy Mathieu laid the ball into the path of the former Gremio forward and his early strike seemed to take David Cobeno by surprise.
Valencia goalkeeper Alves had been used solely in the Champions League until an injury to Vicente Guaita handed him his first league start against Real Madrid last weekend, and he made up for an error in that game with two stunning saves today.
First he diverted an Arribas header wide from Piti’s free-kick and then kept out Delibasic’s headed effort from point-blank range two minutes into the second period.
Valencia added a second on 56 minutes after a wonderful team move. Roberto Soldado sent Sofiane Feghouli free down the right and his cut-back was dummied by Mathieu to allow Costa to fire home.
Jose Ramon Sandoval sent on Tamudo in search of a way back into the game and the veteran goalscorer duly obliged on 84 minutes, although he did require the assistance of referee Estrada Fernandez.
The former Espanyol striker clearly handled as the controlled the ball inside the box, but he was allowed to continue and reacted quickest to poke the loose ball past Alves.
Tito should then have snatched Rayo a point in stoppage time but he fired wastefully over.