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Report: Albion beat Valencia in morale-boosting victory

Albion end pre-season with a 2-1 win over Valencia The visitors take the lead through Rodrigo The Seagulls recover through Glenn Murray’s penalty and Shane Duffy’s header Albion begin the Premier League season next Saturday against Watford

By James Hilsum • 02 August 2019

By Paul Hazlewood

Albion rounded off their pre-season preparations with a morale-boosting 2-1 win against Valencia, producing a confident display full of attacking verve and energy, that will give new boss Graham Potter plenty of encouragement heading into the new season.

Rodrigo’s deflected effort gave the visitors the lead, but Glenn Murray’s spot-kick and Shane Duffy’s late header gave the Seagulls a well-deserved win ahead of their Premier League opener against Watford in eight days' time.

Valencia may be a week behind Albion in their pre-season preparations, but this performance against a side that finished fourth in La Liga last season was nothing to be sniffed at, and would leave the 16,217 fans inside the Amex feeling delighted.

Potter named an unchanged line-up and formation to the one that comfortably beat Birmingham City six days previously, choosing to go with the same back three of Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk and Dan Burn.

Martin Montoya and Solly March were utilised on the right and left flanks, behind an exciting attacking front three of Jurgen Locadia, Glenn Murray and Leandro Trossard in a dynamic 3-4-3 formation.

By Paul Hazlewood

With just eight days to go until the start of the season, Albion fans would have been encouraged by the free-flowing attacking football on display, with Trossard and March, in particular, forming a good understanding down the left flank.

It was by no means a rigid 3-4-3 formation, with Trossard, March and Locadia all being given the freedom to interchange positions at will.

Locadia is one player seemingly thriving under the new system, and the Dutchman created Albion’s first opening of the game, after picking out Murray, whose shot was deflected wide.

Despite that positive start, it was Valencia that took the lead in the 28th minute through Rodrigo, who got in front of Dunk to fire in a clinical first-time finish from Denis Cheryshev’s in-swinging cross.

Undeterred by the setback, Albion continued to press forward and got their reward when referee David Coote pointed to the spot after Murray was brought down inside the box.

By Paul Hazlewood

The Seagulls frontman made no mistake from the subsequent spot-kick, and despite keeper Jaume Domenech guessing the right way, the ball flew past the Spaniard to level the scores with 38 minutes played.

The visitors hadn’t threatened former Valencia man Maty Ryan in the Albion goal, and it was Dale Stephens who cleared Mouctar Diakhaby’s header from Daniel Parejo’s corner shortly after the re-start.

Albion’s willingness to press their opponents was clear to see, and it created a chance for Davy Propper, who was unfortunate not to give Potter’s men the lead with a shot from distance that went inches wide of the left post.

Locadia departed just past the hour mark after showing plenty of endeavour, but no goals to show for it on this occasion, as Pascal Gross replaced him on the right side of Albion’s three-man attack.

Gross was in the thick of the action straight away, as he met March’s superb whipped delivery with a header that went straight into Domenech’s grasp.

Potter made a triple substitution in the closing stages with the introduction of Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Florin Andone and Beram Kayal; the latter two that almost produced Albion’s second goal.

Despite all of Albion’s neat passing football, the second goal came courtesy of another set-piece. Gross swung in an enticing corner towards Duffy, who met the ball with a trademark towering header that flew past Domenech to give Albion a decisive second goal.

By Paul Hazlewood

Potter’s side still had the hunger and drive to get another goal, as Jahanbakhsh saw an effort blocked, before Montoya fired over the bar with a follow-up strike.

Attention now turns to the trip to Vicarage Road on Saturday 10th August, as Albion begin their Premier League campaign away to the Hornets.

ALBION: Ryan; Burn, Duffy, Dunk; Montoya, Stephens, Propper (Jahanbaksh 79), March (Bernardo 79); Locadia (Gross 63), Murray (Andone 71), Trossard (Kayal 79).

SUBS NOT USED: Button (GK), Bong, Connolly, Alzate.

Graham Potter's side are next in action on home soil on Saturday 17th August against West Ham United.

The contest with the Hammers will be the new head coach's first top flight game at the Amex, and tickets are now on sale here at two spaces per fan number.

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