Despite the second leg still to come next week, Santi Mina, 20, all but ensured they reached the last 16 by scoring twice and setting up the other three goals before half-time. Rodrigo scored in the penultimate minute to make the final score 6-0, equalling the competition record set by Steaua Bucharest 18 months ago. It came five days after Neville saw his team win for the first time under him in La Liga, when they beat Espanyol.
And in their stadium against Rapid, Mina started the rout after four minutes and Dani Parejo doubled the lead six minutes later. Mina scored his second after 25 minutes and Álvaro Negredo made it 4-0 four minutes later. André Gomes scored the fifth 10 minutes before half-time.
Mina, who was 20 in December, scored four goals in one league game for his previous club, Celta Vigo, in April last year but has only scored two league goals this season. He joined Valencia on a six-year deal for €10m last summer.
Neville said: “Obviously the result makes it my best night in Valencia. But I’ve never celebrated victories halfway through the season and this will not be the first time.”
Neville did not taste victory in any of his first 12 matches in the Primera Division and has been facing calls for his sacking from fans and media.
He hopes the corner has now been turned in terms of results – although he insists the team has been playing well for some time.
“I hope to start a positive run but it is dangerous to start thinking about turning points. I never thought I needed a result to see a turning point – sometimes we cannot explain how we have not got wins. The squad is stronger, more confident. I’m very happy about tonight but now I’m focused on Granada.”
The other Spanish sides had good nights, with Sevilla, the holders, beat Molde 3-0, and Villarreal won 1-0 at home to Napoli. Athletic Bilbao were 1-0 winners at Marseille with Aritz Aduriz’s spectacular 35-yard volley, his 26th goal of the season, splitting the sides. In Germany, Borussia Dortmund beat Porto 2-0, in the battle of former European Cup winners, with goals from Lukasz Piszczek and Marco Reus. The Europa League final will be held in Basel in May but the Swiss club’s hopes of being there at their own party were dented when they lost 3-2 in France to Saint-Étienne with substitute Jean-Christophe Bahebeck scoring the winner.
Bayer Leverkusen beat 10-man Sporting Lisbon 1-0 away with Karim Bellarabi grabbing the all-important goal after 26 minutes.
Sporting will be without defender Ruben Semedo in next week’s second leg in Germany after the defender was sent off for a second bookable offence after 74 minutes.
Sporting’s fellow Portuguese side Braga had a better night with a 2-1 win against Sion in Switzerland, Nikola Stoiljkovic and Rafa Silva on target for the visitors with Moussa Konaté replying.
Anderlecht beat Olympiakos 1-0 at home with Kara Mbodji’s controversial 67th-minute effort allowed after a lengthy discussion between the referee and a linesman, with the Greeks complaining of a foul on their goalkeeper Roberto.
Lukas Julis’s second-half header gave Sparta Prague a 1-0 advantage over Krasnodar.
Galatasaray and Lazio fought out a 1-1 draw - Sabri Sarioglu’s early finish cancelled out by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – and Shakhtar Donetsk and Schalke played out a goalless draw in Ukraine.
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