Valencia salvage pride with King's Cup triumph

April 17, 2008

MADRID, April 16 (Reuters) - Valencia salvaged pride in a miserable season by claiming their seventh King's Cup with a 3-1 win over Getafe at the Calderon on Wednesday.

Ronald Koeman's side, dragged into the relegation battle after three successive league defeats, went 2-0 up within 12 minutes thanks to goals from midfielder Juan Mata and centre back Alexis.

Getafe were given a new lease of life and hope of avenging their defeat by Sevilla in last season's final when midfielder Esteban Granero pulled a goal back from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime.

But although they put their opponents under severe pressure in the second half, it was Valencia who struck again, substitute Fernando Morientes heading in seven minutes from time to clinch victory.

The night ended on a low note for Getafe when midfielder Fabio Celestini was sent off just before the final whistle.

'I hope this triumph allows us to continue the rest of the season with a bit more tranquillity,' Koeman told a news conference.

'We are a big club and when a big club doesn't live up to its billing there is a lot of unease. But we've won the Cup and we have to enjoy it and hope that we can build on this.'

Defeat completed a heart-breaking week for Getafe who lost to Bayern Munich on away goals in the UEFA Cup.

'We were too tense at the start of the match and Valencia scored the first time they got to our area,' said Getafe coach Michael Laudrup.

'Valencia won the Cup thanks to the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game. We had some good moments in the second half but it wasn't enough.'

Valencia have struggled badly since Koeman took charge in November but they could hardly have made a better start.

Former Real Madrid midfielder Mata put them ahead in the fourth minute with a well taken header after David Silva had clipped in a great cross from the left.

Getafe were still recovering when they were floored again, their former player Alexis charging in at the far post to fire a bullet header from a corner in the 11th minute.

They struggled to respond as Valencia crowded them out in midfield but were thrown a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty after Emiliano Moretti brought Cosmin Contra down.

The referee pointed to the spot after consulting his linesman, sparking a storm of protest from the Valencia players.

Granero kept his cool, however, and sent Valencia keeper Timo Hildebrand the wrong way with his spot kick.

Valencia striker David Villa twice went close to restoring his side's advantage at the start of the second half, firing wide after being put in the clear and seeing a goal-bound shot turned over the bar by keeper Oscar Ustari.

But Valencia had to withstand heavy pressure and it was not until Morientes nodded in after Ustari made a hash of a long-range free kick from Ruben Baraja that they were able to rest easy.