Valencia steadied its recent poor form but had to settle for second place in Group F after a 1-0 victory over Lille at Grande Stade Lille Metropole. Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter
The La Liga outfit ground out a victory that came courtesy of Jonas’s first half penalty but Los Che couldn’t oust Bayern Munich from top spot after the German outfit's comfortable victory over BATE Borisov.
The win ensures that Ernesto Valverde’s reign at Valencia starts on a much brighter note after stand-in coach Salvador Gonzalez masterminded the victory in France.
With both sides’ European fates ultimately decided before kickoff, the match possessed an end of season feel to it and both clubs struggled to register any sort meaningful effort in the opening stages.
The most either team could muster was a headed effort on goal. Adil Rami got above his former colleagues to meet Tino Costa’s free kick but his header barely troubled Steeve Elana’s in the Lille goal, while at the other end Marko Basa nodded comfortably wide after getting on the end of Lucas Digne’s center.
The home side was able to pick up its efforts just before the half hour mark but Rudi Garcia’s men proceeded to waste three genuine chances for which they were punished before the break.
Ronny Rodelin squandered the first opportunity as he pick-pocketed Tino Costa on the edge of his own area but could only direct his shot straight at Vicente Guaita.
Next to test the Valencia goalkeeper was Rio Mavuba but the central midfielder’s low effort was easily reached by Guaita and Salomon Kalou made it a hat trick of chances squandered as he blazed wide a free kick from a dangerous area after he was brought down by Ricardo Costa.
Lille was made to pay for its profligacy in front of goal and the visiting side took the lead towards the end of the first half when the club was awarded a penalty by referee Aleksandar Stavrev for Marko Basa’s foul on Jonas.
The Brazilian was bundled over by the Lille center half after taking down Aly Cissokho’s cross with a deft touch and wriggling past the Montenegrin, the Macedonian Stavrev having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Jonas picked himself up and placed the ball on the spot before dispatching the ball low into the left corner and out of the reach of Elana and giving Los Che the advantage at halftime.
Lille started the second half with a much more attacking impetus and began to threaten the Valencia back line for the first time in the contest.
The warning signs were there when Gianni Bruno was inches away from getting on the end of Digne’s inviting cross and Les Dogues should have been level after 50 minutes but for a goal line intervention from Nelson Valdez.
Rodelin fired in a low shot after the ball fell kindly to him in the area and while his low drive beat Guaita in goal, Valdez read the situation perfectly and was able to block the effort before it could nestle in the far corner.
Valencia soaked up a great deal of pressure from the French side and almost added a second with 20 minutes remaining but while Jonas’s effort had Elana rooted, the ball whizzed just wide of the upright.
Kalou had a glaring opportunity to grab his side a point late on but his effort from inside the box was kept out by Guaita’s diving save and substitute Payet clipped the crossbar with less than five minutes left on the clock on a frustrating night for Rudi Garcia’s men.
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