Valencia win to cool heat on coach

Valencia midfielder Sofiane Feghouli scoring the only goal in the Champions League match against French side Lyon, easing the pressure on coach Santos after a poor start in domestic play.
Valencia midfielder Sofiane Feghouli scoring the only goal in the Champions League match against French side Lyon, easing the pressure on coach Santos after a poor start in domestic play.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Valencia match winner Sofiane Feghouli hailed the side's counter-attacking display after their 1-0 win at Lyon in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The win took Valencia, beaten by Zenit St Petersburg in their first outing, to second place in Group H, behind the Russians. It also eased some of the pressure on under-fire coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

Lyon carved out a number of chances in an open first half but with some poor finishing, still found themselves a goal down at the break. Their best attempt came on 27 minutes when Mathieu Valbuena saw his blistering 25-metre free kick turned onto the bar by Valencia's French goalkeeper Jaume Domenech.

Valencia also rattled the woodwork - twice in the first half - before scoring on the counter-attack three minutes before the interval. Feghouli met a Pablo Piatti cross from the left at full speed as he ran into the box and his shot cannoned off the underside of the bar into the net.

"We had a plan, which was to stay tight in the first half and let our full-backs attack their full-backs - it worked very well," the midfielder told Uefa.com.

"In the second half, we changed our plan and we had to defend more, but it was very important for our confidence that we won."

Misfiring Lyon only had themselves to blame for failing to equalise before half-time.

In stoppage time, striker Alexandre Lacazette broke into the Valencia area, veered to his right and sent in a shot which Aymen Abdennour deflected over Domenech.

But the ball struck the underside of the bar and bounced out before Jeremy Morel unleashed a piledriver which flew high over the bar.

With time running down, Aldo Kalulu laid the ball off for substitute Jordan Ferri, who only had to tap it in but inexplicably missed the target.

"The defence were well organised and played with solidarity," said Nuno.

"We managed to neutralise Lyon's strong points, especially in midfield and we've taken three points in a very balanced group so I'm proud of the team's work."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2015, with the headline 'Valencia win to cool heat on coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe