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Villarreal cruised to a comfortable Derbi de la Comunitat victory over a much-changed Valencia, as the home side kept up the pressure on the teams above them in the race for European football.

Valencia made nine changes for the game, with one eye on their Copa Del Rey final on Saturday, and it quickly became apparent that Pepe Bordalás’ side had nothing in reserve. The deadlock was broken from the spot after just six minutes when Aïssa Mandi’s header from a corner was handled by Eray Cömert. Arnaut Danjuma slotted home the resulting penalty, and it was the start of an eventful half for the Dutchman.

After failing to capitalise when a static Valencia defence allowed him the simplest of one-on-one chances, Villarreal’s number 15 would immediately make amends by bagging his second of the game. The move began with excellent work from Juan Foyth, whose charging 40-yard run from the centre-back position was topped off by a precise through ball, allowing Danjuma the space to fire a tidy finish across Jasper Cillessen for his 16th goal of the season in all competitions. It was a truly dominant first-half showing from the home side, who could have been further ahead as Yéremy Pino and Danjuma went close to piling even more pain on the visitors.

Valencia improved in the second half and thought they had a lifeline when substitute Denis Cheryshev turned home after complacent defending from the ‘Yellow Submarine’, only for referee José Luis Munuera Montero to rule out the goal due to an earlier dive by Ilaix Moriba. With 20 minutes to go, Marcos André sent a curling shot just wide, which proved to be the last meaningful act of resistance from a defeated Valencia side.

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