Football: Valencia joy dampened by injury to keeper Alves

Valencia's goalkeeper Diego Alves holds the ball during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs Valencia CF at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 9, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Valencia's goalkeeper Diego Alves holds the ball during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs Valencia CF at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 9, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (REUTERS) - Valencia's joy on Saturday at securing a berth in Champions League qualifying for next season was tempered by an apparently serious knee injury to their Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Alves.

The 29-year-old had to come off after hurting his right knee in the second half of the 3-2 La Liga win at Almeria and Spanish media reported he had damaged cruciate ligaments and could be facing several months on the sidelines.

"We are happy and pleased with the victory but sad for Diego Alves," executive president Amadeo Salvo said on the club's website (www.valenciacf.com).

Valencia are close to making a lucrative return to the group stage of Europe's elite club competition following their takeover late last year by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim.

Hopes are high Lim's investment will help the club sort out their finances and transform them back into genuine contenders in Spain and Europe.

Champions League finalists in 2000 and 2001, Valencia missed out on European competition after finishing eighth last term with a mere 49 points.

They ended their latest La Liga campaign in fourth place on 77 points, the same number they amassed when they last won the Spanish league title in 2004 and a point behind third-placed Atletico Madrid.

"We have completed our objective for the season," Amadeo said. "Now we have to look to the future. We have a project that will continue to grow and develop."

With some wise spending over the summer, Valencia, under Portuguese coach Nuno, could make a strong challenge next term in both domestic and European competition.