Europa League - Stoke bow out of Europe at Valencia

Thu, 23 Feb 18:59:00 2012

A 1-0 victory at the Mestalla sealed a 2-0 aggregate win for Valencia in their Europa League last-32 tie against Stoke, sending the Premier League side out of the competition.

Valencia's players celebrate after they scored against Stoke City during their Europa League match. - 0

A 24th-minute strike from Jonas was, like Mehmet Topal's stunning effort in last week's first leg fixture at the Britannia Stadium, the only goal on the night and enough to solidify the Liga side's advantage.

A much-changed and depleted Stoke, who named only four substitutes of a possible seven for the second leg, put in an admirable effort but lacked the firepower to trouble one of the favourites to go all the way in this season's competition.

Tony Pulis and his men felt hard done by when midfielder Diego Arismendi appeared to be fouled in the moments leading to the goal, but were unable to bounce back and find even one of the two goals required to seal a significant upset.

Valencia will now meet PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch Eredivisie in the round of 16, following their 6-2 aggregate victory over Turkish club Trabzonspor this evening.

Knowing their one-goal advantage from the Britannia Stadium was not enough to sit back on against Tony Pulis’s men, Valencia wasted little time going for a stronger lead and almost had it in the second minute.

After Salif Diao had upended Jonas on the edge of the Stoke ‘D’, Daniel Parejo stepped up to curl a great free-kick on to Thomas Sorensen’s crossbar.

Kenwyne Jones will have been disappointed with the quality of his header from a Rory Delap cross with a quarter of an hour on the clock, though he did better four minutes later when put through by a Wilson Palacios pass with Vicente Guaita able to get fingertips on his shot to put it out for a corner.

The English club made another effort at penetrating the Spaniards’ back line on 23 minutes only for Diego Arismendi to be denied what appeared to be a blatant free-kick when his dribble towards the penalty area was thwarted by two defenders barging into him.

Instead, referee Markus Strombergsson of Sweden told the midfielder to get up, and the home side would take advantage of the fortuitous decision almost immediately.

Captain Pablo Hernandez showed great pace on the right flank to get the better of Danny Collins before crossing low to the far post where Jonas awaited, unmarked, to break the deadlock from close range.

Valencia did a good job throughout the second half of restricting their opponents, whose task of scoring twice to advance had not been affected by going behind on the night, to little more than a number of half-chances and distance efforts.

They almost killed the tie off completely with 12 minutes remaining when Delap inexplicably played a defensive free-kick short across the field, allowing substitute Roberto Soldado to pounce ahead of the pass's intended target Jonathan Woodgate.

Bearing down on goal, the striker was faced off well by Sorensen who eventually got a block in on the shot in the one-on-one.

But the goal would only have added to gloss to the result for Valencia, who ended Stoke's first European campaign since 1974.

Liam Happe - on Twitter @liamhappe / Eurosport

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