Pulis proud of Stoke but laments what could have been after poor decisions
Stoke boss Tony Pulis was proud of his side's efforts in the 1-0 defeat by Valencia that has left the Potters with an uphill battle to reach the last 16 of the Europa League.
Mehmet Topal's brilliant long-range strike nine minutes before the break settled the first leg in favour of the Spaniards at the Britannia Stadium.
Valencia, who sit third in the Primera Division, were already hot favourites to win the tie and Stoke must now claim victory in the Mestalla next week to extend their European adventure.
Special: Mehmet Topal lets fly to score the only goal of the game
Pulis said: 'We needed a break, we needed to score first and that would have given everybody a lift and kept us going. We had some good opportunities in the first quarter of an hour and it just didn't break for us then they scored a wonder goal.
'It's disappointing because Rory (Delap) or (Marc) Wilson could have got out to the ball a bit quicker but it's a fantastic strike, a goal worthy of winning any game.
Earning his corn: Asmir Begovic repels Sofiane Feghouli's shot
'They've got some great quality, they're a Champions League side so for us to give them the game we have, I think we've done smashing.'
Stoke began well and Jon Walters screwed a shot wide inside the first minute, which turned out to be probably their best opportunity all night.
Tough night: Stoke boss Tony Pulis shows the strain
Valencia took a while to find their passing game but when they did it proved difficult for the Potters to deal with and Asmir Begovic produced a great save to deny Jonas after a jinking run.
The Spaniards seemed determined to walk the ball into the net so there was a certain irony that their goal came from a thundering 30-yard shot from Topal that left Begovic pawing at thin air.
What could have been: Peter Crouch reflects on his wasted opportunity
Peter Crouch fired a volley just over
the bar towards the end of the first half but chances were few and far
between in the second 45 minutes and it was Valencia who came closest
when Sofiane Feghouli's shot hit the post and then Begovic but somehow
The match became increasingly niggly
towards the end, with Stoke frustrated by perceived time-wasting from
their opponents and also furious at two challenges by Tino Costa on Dean
Gamesmanship: Jon Walters and Tino Costa go head to head
The second in particular angered the midfielder, who was left writhing in agony clutching his leg. Referee Peter Rasmussen did not even award a free-kick and Whitehead, who took out his shinpad to show the damage to the official, was booked for his protests.
He said: 'It was studs-up and he could have broken my leg. If I hadn't had my shinpad on it would have broken my leg.'
In vain: dean Whitehead (floored) and Jon Walters appeal after a challenge by Tino Costa
Pulis believes his club have been harshly dealt with by referees in their last three games, with Robert Huth shown a red card against Sunderland but Fulham's Pavel Pobgrebnyak and Costa tonight escaping without punishment.
The Potters boss said: 'Deano's got a hell of a gash on his leg from two challenges by Costa, very poor challenges, and again we're on the wrong end of decisions. They could easily have been red cards.
'The disappointing thing is, a bit like Saturday at Fulham, the referee's ever so close and sees both incidents. For all what they say about us, our lads work hard and have a go, they're very honest lads and those were poor challenges. The lads were upset.'