Arsenal old boy Robert Pires continues to enjoy something of a renaissance at Villarreal while Valencia continue their journey back into the dark ages under the serious mismanagement of Ronald Koeman.
The Dutch coach, who replaced the sacked Quique Sanchez Flores in October, watched his team continue a run of eight weeks without an away win, as a superb individual goal from Pires helped Villarreal easily beat their local rivals.
Koeman's side have picked up just six points from a possible 27 and are sinking with their manager's reputation. The Dutchman arrived having guided PSV to the Dutch title and many saw his move to Spain as a stepping stone to the Barcelona job.
But after telling club stalwarts David Albelda, Santiago Canizares and Miguel Angulo that they were no longer being considered for selection and selling Manuel Fernandez to Everton, the Valencia manager is running out of time and players. His star striker, David Villa, hobbled out of the action on the hour with what appeared to be a thigh strain to add to his woes.
Meanwhile, the exiled Albelda turned up for training with his lawyer, as he tries to manoeuvre himself away from Valencia – they refuse to pick him, but having played five games for them he is prevented from moving to another Spanish team under league rules.
"The team is getting better but that didn't show itself in this game," Koeman said. "We have to accept that Villarreal are the better side and keep working hard." That Villarreal are superior to their neighbours despite coming from a small town whose entire population would fit inside Valencia's Mestalla stadium is testament to the talents of the Chilean coach, Manuel Pellegrini.
Using Pires on the left but with the freedom to drift infield, the Frenchman controlled much of this game and scored the opening goal after just six minutes cutting in from the flank, going past Carlos Marchena and Angel Arizmendi, and scoring inside Timo Hildebrand's far post.
Joan Capdevila netted the second following a corner just after the hour mark and Turkish striker Nihat fired the third after Giuseppe Rossi's fine work.Reuse content