Valencia scores World Cup-best third goal in Ecuador draw, eliminates Qatar from tournament Read more
“I’ve had a bit of good fortune in my career, but I have a reputation as a person who could do some damage. I don’t expect to have the same impact as I have had, but I’m still keen on doing that. It’s never going to change – we’re not going to stop trying.”
Having been an anonymous presence in the first-half, Valencia burst into life in the second half. His first goal, a fine tap in, was the first meaningful action he had taken for the Spanish team since the 1-0 win against Portugal in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals. It also brought the end to a period of 15 minutes of a stand-off between Nolito and Sergio Ramos that had seen nothing but the players walking out on the pitch together.
It was as though they had reached a crossroads. “It’s not ideal,” Valencia said of the final half-hour before adding: “I’m glad we’re playing in Paris. I would have preferred to go through to the last 16 here.”
Ramos had already said he would leave if Valencia scored, but he pulled out a long-range effort from just inside the area after the break. Having been sent on when Spain lost to Sweden the previous week, and then beaten by Russia in a World Cup warmup match, Valencia was asked by his coach to try to score a goal before. He duly obliged.
It came in a match in which the most obvious action was taken outside the penalty area, and there was no more significant moment in the second-half than when Rafael Marquez – wearing the red shirt of Seville – and Sergio Asenjo were both sent off. It was a sign, Valencia believed, of the respect that is held in Seville for the opposition.
“I was a bit nervous,” he said. “I’m not the first one to be nervous