Prandelli makes winning start
Photo Source: AP
Former Italy manager Cesare Prandelli got off to a winning start in his La Liga debut, with his Valencia side grinding out a 2-1 victory at Sporting Gijon to lift the club out of the relegation zone.
Playing smart football with quick transitions and efficient ball possession, Valencia won thanks to two goals by striker Mario Suarez at El Molinon Stadium.
It was the team's third win in eight rounds, Valencia moving up to 14th place with nine points, two more than Sporting, now in the relegation zone after their fifth straight loss.
"What I liked the most was the attitude of the team,'' Prandelli said.
"I'm very happy, but we still have a lot to improve, we still need to work on many things. The three points gives the team confidence to keep working.''
Valencia scored first with Suarez's right-footed shot from inside the area after a cross in the seventh minute, but Sporting striker Carlos Castro equalised with a close-range header in the 41st.
Suarez's winner came with an easy shot from in front of the goal after Sporting defenders failed to clear a ball crossed into the area in the 65th.
"I'm trying to give the team an identity,'' Prandelli said.
"Once we get that, we can start thinking about bigger goals.''
Prandelli is Valencia's eighth full-time manager since Unai Emery's four-year stint ended in 2012.
Fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao got the better of Basque rival Real Sociedad, earning their fifth win in their last six games with a 3-2 victory.
The hosts conceded early at San Memes Stadium but rallied with three second-half goals, including a nice lob from outside the area by veteran striker Aritz Aduriz.
They now trails leaders Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid by three points.
Promoted Alaves conceded a late goal to walk away with a a 1-1 draw.
The top four teams all registered convincing wins on Saturday - Atletico Madrid thrashing Granada 7-1, Real Madrid thumping Real Betis 6-1, Barcelona beating Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 at home in the return of Lionel Messi with Sevilla winning 3-2 at Leganes.