Va­len­cia de­feat Monaco to reach group stage

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Va­len­cia held off Monaco in their Cham­pi­ons League play-off tie to qual­ify for the group stages, de­spite a 2-1 sec­ond-leg de­feat at the Stade Louis II on Tues­day as they pro­gressed 4-3 on ag­gre­gate.

The Span­ish side held a 3-1 ad­van­tage from the first leg and Al­varo Ne­gredo’s su­perb early goal on Tues­day stunted the prin­ci­pal­ity club’s hopes of a come­back.

An­drea Raggi hauled Monaco level af­ter 17 min­utes and they took the lead on the night thanks to Elder­son’s closerange fin­ish af­ter 75 min­utes, but it proved too lit­tle, too late as last sea­son’s quar­ter­fi­nal­ists go into the Europa League groups in­stead.

For Va­len­cia — the two-time run­ners up hav­ing lost the 2000 and 2001 fi­nals to Real Madrid and Bay­ern Mu­nich re­spec­tively — it’s a re­turn to the lu­cra­tive group stages af­ter a two-year ab­sence.

Nuno Espir­ito Santo’s Va­len­cia started su­perbly and — clearly buoyed by Sofi­ane Feghouli’s late third goal in the first leg last Wed­nes­day at the Mestalla — took a de­served lead when Monaco de­fender Fabinho gave the ball away and for­mer Manch­ester City striker Ne­gredo flighted a sump­tu­ous chip over home ‘keeper Dani­jel Suba­sic from the left side of the penalty box in the fourth minute.

Ligue 1 side Monaco had no an­swer to Va­len­cia’s verve and swag­ger early on and Ne­gredo should have made it two only to blaze over when un­marked in the area af­ter another fine team move.

But de­spite be­ing on the back­foot, Leonardo Jardim’s men lev­eled in the 17th minute.

Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional goal­keeper Mathew Ryan’s un­con­vinc­ing punch fell kindly to Raggi and the Ital­ian full-back’s su­perb swivel and shot flew into the bot­tom cor­ner.

The La Liga club were all of a sud­den look­ing ner­vous with Monaco get­ting stronger and stronger as the first pe­riod pro­gressed with­out prop­erly test­ing Ryan in the vis­it­ing goal.

The Ligue 1 side — 2004 run­ners-up af­ter los­ing 3-0 to Jose Mour­inho’s Porto — scored a sec­ond with 15 min­utes re- main­ing to re-ig­nite their hopes of pro­gress­ing.

Ryan could only palm a free-kick against the chest of Monaco sub­sti­tute Guido Car­rillo who in­ad­ver­tantly teed up fel­low sub Elder­son with the Nige­rian in­ter­na­tional pok­ing in from a yard out.

Monaco huffed and puffed but they couldn’t find the third goal which would’ve forced ex­tra-time.

Va­len­cia side came through 4-3 on ag­gre­gate to main­tain their record of never hav­ing lost a Euro­pean qual­i­fy­ing tie over two legs, while Monaco fail to reach the group stages for the tenth time in 12 sea­sons since reach­ing the fi­nal in 2004.

AFP

Va­len­cia CF play­ers celebrate af­ter win­ning the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League play­off soc­cer se­ries against AS Monaco FC at the Louis II Sta­dium in Monaco, Tues­day, Aug. 25.

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