Valencia's Soler conquers self-doubt and Madrid taunts to hit hat-trick of penalties

VALENCIA (Reuters) - Valencia’s hat-trick hero Carlos Soler said he thought twice about stepping up again to take a penalty in his side’s remarkable 4-1 win over Real Madrid on Sunday after seeing his first spot-kick saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Valencia v Real Madrid - Mestalla, Valencia, Spain - November 8, 2020 Valencia's Carlos Soler celebrates scoring their fourth goal and completing his hat-trick REUTERS/Juan Medina

Soler also revealed that Real players were trying to put him off his second attempt once the penalty was ordered to be retaken due to Yunus Musah encroaching in the area before netting on the rebound.

Soler picked the same bottom left-hand corner at the second attempt but this time blasted beyond the outstretched Courtois and also beat the Belgian twice more from the spot in the second half, becoming the first player ever to score three penalties against Madrid in any competition.

“There was a moment when I doubted whether I should take it again but in the end I decided to and after I scored it gave me the confidence to take the others,” said Soler.

“Last week (in a 2-2 draw with Getafe) I picked the same spot so I went for it again. Opponents always say things to put you off and I could hear the Madrid players behind me saying they knew where I was going to shoot and that he (Courtois) would save it again.

“But I decided to take it the same way, I practise a lot in training and it paid off. Courtois waited and waited so I had to hit it very far into the corner.”

The victory over the champions was therapeutic for Valencia in a chaotic campaign, after parting ways with seven key players in the close season and failing to bring in any new arrivals in the transfer window.

Coach Javi Gracia, meanwhile, has repeatedly spoken out against owner Peter Lim and president Anil Murthy over their handling of the club . He handed in his resignation last month due to their lack of transfer activity before withdrawing it.

“We really needed a win like this,” added Soler.

“We were really solid today and made sure that Madrid didn’t have many clear chances, but we know we still have to do a lot more.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis