Get over Zenit loss quickly, says Nuno

VALENCIA • Spanish football side Valencia must quickly forget the disappointment at losing Wednesday's Champions League Group H opener at home to Zenit St Petersburg and switch their attention back to La Liga, said coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

Valencia's return to Europe's elite club competition after a two-year absence was marred when Brazil forward Hulk struck twice for the Russian champions in a 3-2 win at the Mestalla.

Nuno's side have also made an unconvincing start to their domestic league campaign.

They drew their opening two matches before securing a 1-0 win with a late goal at promoted Sporting Gijon last weekend.

"The most important thing is that we pick ourselves up very quickly, put the Champions League to one side and draw some swift conclusions," Nuno said ahead of tomorrow's match at home to last season's second-division champions Real Betis.

"We will work on individual aspects because we want to grow and improve. Nobody can afford to waste time complaining as we have another important game on Saturday."

Valencia were runners-up in the Champions League in 2000 and 2001 and last won La Liga in 2004 under current Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez.

Financial woes hampered them in recent years but hopes are high of a return to former glories following a takeover last year by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim.

Hulk thumped home two powerful efforts to give the Russian side a 2-0 half-time lead before Joao Cancelo and Andre Gomes hauled Valencia level after the break.

However, the home side's good work was undone when Axel Witsel struck the winner moments later to give Andres Villas-Boas' men the perfect start in Group H.

Zenit lead Gent and Lyon by two points after Gent salvaged a point with nine men in a 1-1 draw in the other match in the group.

"There was one team that went to attack from the first minute and that was us," said Nuno.

"We weren't surprised because we knew Zenit had those characteristics but they had three shots and scored three goals.

"Football is like that, they were clinical and we weren't."

Villas-Boas said Zenit's plans to allow Valencia to dominate possession paid off .

"That was our strategy - to counter-attack. The result is fair. To have a lot of the ball in football does not necessarily mean a lot."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'Get over Zenit loss quickly, says Nuno'. Print Edition | Subscribe