Tag Archives: mestalla

Valencia 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore score before Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sent off

Valencia 1 PSG 2: Lavezzi and Pastore give visitors upper hand before Zlatan sees red

PUBLISHED:

21:37 GMT, 12 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:07 GMT, 12 February 2013

Adil Rami popped up with a crucial stoppage-time strike to hand Valencia a lifeline in their Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St Germain at the Mestalla tonight.

PSG looked on course for a dream result as first-half goals by Argentinian duo Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore put Carlo Ancelotti's men firmly in the driving seat, but their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals suffered a setback in the space of two wild minutes at the end of the contest.

First Rami stole in behind the defence to reduce the arrears for Los Che before PSG's talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off for aiming a stamp at Andres Guardado.

Doubling up: Javier Pastore (right) scored Paris Saint-Germain's second of the evening

Doubling up: Javier Pastore (right) scored Paris Saint-Germain's second of the evening

Excellent start: Ezequiel Lavezzi (right) is hoisted up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after opening the scoring for PSG

Excellent start: Ezequiel Lavezzi (right) is hoisted up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after opening the scoring for PSG

Needless: Zlatan Ibrahimovic was red-carded for a lunge by referee Paolo Tagliavento

Needless: Zlatan Ibrahimovic was red-carded for a lunge by referee Paolo Tagliavento

MATCH FACTS

Valencia: Guaita, Rami, Joao Pereira, Guardado, Costa, Oliveira (Valdez 46), Feghouli (Viera 83), Banega (Canales 46), Parejo, Facundo, Costa, Soldado

Subs not used: Diego Alves, Ruiz, Albelda, Piatti

Booked: Joao Pereira

Goal: Rami 90

Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu, Sakho, Alex, Maxwell, Jallet, Matuidi, Verratti, Pastore (Armand 88), Lucas Moura (Chantome 53), Lavezzi (Menez 76), Ibrahimovic

Subs not used: Douchez, Camara, Van Der Wiel, Gameiro

Booked: Verratti

Sent off: Ibrahimovic 90

Goals: Lavezzi 10, Pastore 43

Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)

Attendance: 55,000

The red card means Ibrahimovic is
suspended for the return leg along with defensive midfielder Marco
Verratti, who picked up his third booking of the campaign.

PSG's late implosion took the shine off an otherwise impressive performance by Ancelotti's troops.

Certainly the watching David Beckham,
who recently joined PSG on a five-month deal but was not in the squad
today due to a lack of match fitness, will have been encouraged by what
he saw.

However, that Lucas Moura played such
an influential role for the Parisians will not have been lost on the
37-year-old, with the Brazilian's pace and trickery down the right
channel not something the set-piece maestro can realistically expect to
replicate.

Lucas was a thorn in Valencia's side
in the opening period and had the first chance on nine minutes when he
latched on to the ball after Ibrahimovic's run was halted and crashed an
effort against the post.

PSG did not have long to dwell on that miss, however, as they took the lead 60 seconds later.

Marching order: Ibrahimovic will miss the next leg of the tie

Marching order: Ibrahimovic will miss the next leg of the tie

Consolation: Adil Rami gave Valencia hope of progressing after cutting PSG's advantage in half late on

Consolation: Adil Rami gave Valencia hope of progressing after cutting PSG's advantage in half late on

Colossus: Ibrahimovic holds off the challenge of Tino Costa

Colossus: Ibrahimovic holds off the challenge of Tino Costa

Making a mark: Salvatore Sirigu (centre) catches the ball to halt a Valencia attack

Making a mark: Salvatore Sirigu (centre) catches the ball to halt a Valencia attack

Lavezzi started and finished the
move, exchanging passes with Pastore on the edge of the area and
advancing beyond the lunging challenge of Ricardo Costa before crashing a
powerful finish beyond Vicente Guaita, who should perhaps have done
better.

Guardado flashed an effort over the
bar as Valencia went in search of the leveller, but it was PSG who
looked most likely to add to the scoring, with Lucas and Lavezzi
bringing saves from Guaita.

PSG's second goal arrived two minutes before the break, but again the Valencia goalkeeper will feel he should have done better.

Lucas, having impressed with a couple
of surging runs from his own half, gave a demonstration of what he can
deliver in the final third as he beat two men on the byline before
running into the area and pulling the ball back for Pastore, whose
first-time finish went through the legs of Guaita.

Aerial battle: Christophe Jallet (left) is unable to compete with Ever Banega in the air

Aerial battle: Christophe Jallet (left) is unable to compete with Ever Banega in the air

Anguish: David Beckham and Leonardo (right) watch the tie

Anguish: David Beckham and Leonardo (right) watch the tie

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde
shuffled his back at the interval, with striker Nelson Valdez and
attacking midfielder Sergio Canales entering the action for Ever Banega
and Jonas.

Valdez almost made an immediate
impression when his back header from a corner was tipped over by
Salvatore Sirigu under pressure from Roberto Soldado.

Lucas' impressive outing was ended on
53 minutes as Ancelotti sacrificed the attacking flair of the Brazilian
for the more defensive midfield option of Clement Chantome.

Chantome's added midfield bite was
unable to prevent Soldado getting in behind the visiting defence on 61
minutes, the striker running on to Tino Costa's lofted pass only to see
the chance come to nothing as his heavy touch took the ball away from
goal.

On 72 minutes PSG were denied a third
when Chantome turned the ball home after a good move following a
free-kick, the substitute rightly ruled to have been coming back from an
offside position.

Making an appearance: David Beckham (centre) was inside the stadium to support his new team-mates

Making an appearance: David Beckham (centre) was inside the stadium to support his new team-mates

Making an appearance: David Beckham (centre) was inside the stadium to support his new team-mates

Valdez passed up a glorious chance to
get Valencia back into the contest when he stole in ahead of Alex to
reach another lofted pass by Costa, but the striker shanked his
left-footed finish into the side-netting.

Costa's powerful free-kick drew a
good parry from Sirigu in the 87th minute, but the PSG goalkeeper was
culpable for Valencia's late reply, which gives Valverde's men huge hope
ahead of the return.

No chance: Blaise Matuidi (right) snatches the ball away from Daniel Parejo (left) of Valencia

No chance: Blaise Matuidi (right) snatches the ball away from Daniel Parejo (left) of Valencia

Flare up: Visiting Paris Saint-Germain fans set off a flare in the stands

Flare up: Visiting Paris Saint-Germain fans set off a flare in the stands

Costa created the chance with a
chipped free-kick over the top of the Valencia defence, although as the
ball floated into the six-yard box the goalkeeper should have come to
claim.

Instead, Sirigu stayed rooted to his line, leaving Rami unchallenged as he cleverly steered the ball into the net.

And with almost the very last action
of the night PSG's efforts were further diluted when Ibrahimovic allowed
himself to become riled as he challenged with two Valencia players and
went over the ball in a challenge with Guardado, prompting the referee
to brandish the red card.

Star man: Lavezzi (left) was in exceptional form and looked a constant threat

Star man: Lavezzi (left) was in exceptional form and looked a constant threat

Tussle: Matuidi and Banega (right) battle away in the middle of the park

Tussle: Matuidi and Banega (right) battle away in the middle of the park

Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 0: Cristiano Ronaldo eclipses Falcao

Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 0: Ronaldo magic eclipses muted Falcao

PUBLISHED:

23:27 GMT, 1 December 2012

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UPDATED:

01:15 GMT, 2 December 2012

Third-placed Real Madrid remained 11
points off the pace after winning a highly-anticipated derby 2-0,
ensuring Atletico's winless run in the fixture will stretch into its
14th year.

A wonderful free-kick from Cristiano
Ronaldo lit up what was an otherwise disappointing first half before
Mesut Ozil secured all three points with a tidy finish 25 minutes from
time.

Free range: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his early strike

Free range: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his early strike

Earlier, 10-man Valencia went down 5-2 against Real Sociedad – with coach Mauricio Pellegrino sacked soon after the full-time whistle at the Mestalla.

'We have been exchanging views, and we made the decision to dismiss Mauricio Pellegrino,' Valencia president Manuel Llorente said.

Former player Salvador Gonzalez, known as Voro, will take temporary charge of Los Che.

Sporting director Braulio Vazquez added on the club's website: 'If you look at the future of the team, you can understand that in this game we have not been good, but the progression of the team was not right.

'I want to emphasise that Mauricio has gone, but it is the responsibility of all.'

Close call: Ronaldo saw this effort hit the post

Close call: Ronaldo saw this effort hit the post

Roberto Soldado's second-minute strike
had given the hosts an early lead but they were never in control and
were pegged back before half-time as Alberto de la Bella fired in an
equaliser minutes after Jonas had seen a straight red card for lashing
out at David Zurutuza.

Sociedad took control in the second period as further goals from Mikel
Gonzalez, Diego Ifran, Imanol Agirretxe and Carlos Vela rendered
Soldado's second of the evening meaningless and lifted the victors to
seventh.

Also in the Spanish top flight today, Getafe moved level on points with
fourth-placed Malaga thanks to a 1-0 win. Alberto Lopo headed home the
game's only goal 11 minutes into the second half.
end

John Terry offered Valencia transfer

Troubled Terry targeted by Valencia in shock January move for Chelsea captain

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UPDATED:

07:53 GMT, 25 October 2012

John Terry has been offered the chance to escape Chelsea and join Valencia in January.

The Blues skipper has endured a torrid time in recent months, having been stripped of the England armband and handed fines from Chelsea and the FA, who also banned him for four matches, for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

Terry, 31, is still revered among the Stamford Bridge faithful and has kept the Chelsea captaincy despite the scandal, but has the chance to leave England behind and start again in Spain.

Time to walk away John Terry (right) could be heading for the Chelsea exit

Time to walk away John Terry (right) could be heading for the Chelsea exit

FIFA agent Francois Gallardo claims that Terry has already been offered an 18-month contract at the Mestalla, with the option for another year.

And Gallardo also insists that Terry, whose Chelsea deal expires in 2014, is ready to take up Valencia's offer.

Gallardo told Radio Intereconomia: 'Valencia are negotiating, and I am involved in person, with the signing in the winter transfer market.

'The offer is on his table. The player is out of contract in June and will not renew there for several reasons at Chelsea and he wants to come to Spain.

Leader: Terry remains Chelsea captain despite racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

Leader: Terry remains Chelsea captain despite racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

Gallardo added: 'Terry has problems. They are insulting him and he is not taking it anymore. He asked to leave, not us.

'It’s real. This has been going on for 15 days and two meetings have already took place. The deal is already on his table – a year and a half plus one.

'I think he will accept.'

Barcelona maintain perfect start but Real Madrid crash again

Barcelona maintain perfect start but Real Madrid crash again

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 15 September 2012

Lionel Messi climbed off the bench to score twice while his fellow substitute David Villa was again on the mark as Barcelona continued their 100 per cent start to the new Primera Division season with a 4-1 victory over Getafe on Saturday.

Adriano capitalised on good work by Cesc Fabregas to notch a 32nd-minute opener before the visitors added three more goals in the final 16 minutes to seal their fourth win in four league outings.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi

Hard to handle: Barcelona's Lionel Messi

Messi doubled the lead from the penalty spot before the Argentina ace made it 3-0 four minutes later. Getafe pulled a goal back through Pablo Sarabia's deflected strike but Villa had the final word with a brilliant piece of finishing in stoppage time to complete the scoring.

Getafe came into the game on the back of victory over defending champions Real Madrid who sank to a successive defeat, losing 1-0 at Sevilla to fall eight points behind Barca.

Piotr Trochowski lashed home after 69 seconds and Madrid could not find a response, instead counting themselves lucky that not one but two of their players avoided red cards that could easily have been shown to Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria in separate incidents.

Madrid had scored 12 goals combined in their last two visits to Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, but only fleetingly threatened the goal here as they looked lost in their own uncertainties for long periods.

Perfect 10: Messi celebrates with after scoring

Perfect 10: Messi celebrates with after scoring

Valencia earned their first league victory at the fourth time of asking after easing past newly-promoted Celta Vigo 2-1 at the Mestalla.

Sofiane Feghouli gave Valencia an early lead and although Celta equalised soon after through Michael Krohn-Delhi, the hosts claimed the points thanks to Aly Cissokho's 50th-minute winner.

Valencia, who have finished third in each of the last three seasons, had only managed to pick up two points from a tough start to the campaign which included trips to big two Real and Barca.

Malaga maintained their unbeaten start to the league campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win over Levante thanks to goals from Javier Saviola, Joaquin and Francisco Portillo.

Not impressed: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Sevilla's Fernando Navarro

Not impressed: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Sevilla's Fernando Navarro

Saviola deservedly put the hosts in front after 26 minutes with a simple finish from Isco's fine through ball, but Levante were level a minute after half-time when Michel thundered in from outside the area.

However, Malaga's lead was restored 12 minutes later when Saviola's cute pass found Joaquin free inside the area and his calm finish gave Gustavo Munua no chance.

And, despite losing Sergio Sanchez to a second yellow card three minutes from time, Portillo sealed all three points with a controlled volley in the last action of the match.

Gloom: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) and coach Jose Mourinho

Gloom: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) and coach Jose Mourinho

Valencia 2 Tottenham 0: Spurs" unbeaten pre-season ends with defeat in Spain

Valencia 2 Tottenham 0: Spurs' unbeaten pre-season ends with defeat in Spain

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UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 9 August 2012

A strong Tottenham side lost 2-0 against Primera Division outfit Valencia at the Mestalla on Thursday evening.

Andre Villas-Boas' team had their chances but went down to goals either side of half-time from Jonas and Sofiane Feghouli.

Spurs had the first chance after 10 minutes but Gylfi Sigurdsson saw his shot blocked and four minutes later Aaron Lennon was denied twice when Diego Alves saved his shot and then got up to block the winger's second attempt.

Bale out: The Spurs winger couldn't prevent his side from losing for the first time in their pre-season

Bale out: The Spurs winger couldn't prevent his side from losing for the first time in their pre-season

Team line-ups

Valencia: Diego Alves; Joao Pereira, Victor Ruiz, Ricardo Costa, Jeremy Mathieu, Tino Costa; Fernando Gago, Sofiane Feghouli, Jonas; Jose Andres Guardado, Paco Alcacer.

Tottenham: Brad Friedel; Kyle Walker, Willim Gallas, Jan Vertonghen, Benoit Assou-Ekotto; Jermaine Jenas, Jake Livermore; Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gareth Bale; Jermain Defoe.

Lennon had another effort blocked
before the visitors were punished for not taking their chances when
Jonas fired into the top corner from 25 yards with 18 minutes gone.

Goalkeeper Brad Friedel kept his side
in the game three minutes before half-time when he saved at the feet of
Feghouli before clearing the loose ball.

Valencia increased their lead with 14 minutes remaining, though, when Feghouli shot across Friedel and into the far corner.

Jake the lad: Livermore was in action for the north London club

Jake the lad: Livermore was in action for the north London club

Rafael van der Vaart saw a shot
deflected wide before Alves saved his free-kick as Tottenham pressed in
the closing stages before Jermain Defoe shot straight at the Valencia
goalkeeper.

Andros Townsend had a stoppage-time shot saved by Alves as Spurs tried in vain to grab a consolation.

Plenty to ponder: Spurs boss Villas-Boas has just a few days now to prepare before the season starts

Plenty to ponder: Spurs boss Villas-Boas has just a few days now to prepare before the season starts

Barcelona sign Jordi Alba

Alba goes home to Barcelona as Spanish giants beat United to 12m Spain left-back

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UPDATED:

13:52 GMT, 28 June 2012

Barcelona have signed Valencia full-back Jordi Alba for 11.7million, beating Manchester United to the Spain international.

The 23-year-old, who is currently on duty at Euro 2012, will pen a five-year contract once he has passed his medical, Barca have confirmed.

A Barcelona statement on the club's website read: 'Barcelona announce that today they reached an agreement with Valencia for the transfer of Jordi Alba, who will undergo his medical next week.

No pain for Spain: Jordi Alba has completed a move to Barcelona from Valencia

No pain for Spain: Jordi Alba has completed a move to Barcelona from Valencia

'The cost of the operation will be 14million euros and the player will sign a contract for the next five seasons.'

Attacking left-back Alba, whose contract with Valencia was due to expire in June 2013, is no stranger to Barcelona.

Born in the Catalan city of L'Hospitalet, Alba spent seven years at Barca's famous La Masia youth academy from 1998 to 2005.

Afterwards he played for local lower-league side Cornella for two years before joining Valencia in 2007.

At the Mestalla, Alba was part of the Valencia reserve side that was promoted to Segunda B before spending the 2008/09 season on loan at Gimnastic Tarragona.

Pastures new: Jordi Alba (right) will hope for more success at his new club

Pastures new: Jordi Alba (right) will hope for more success at his new club

On returning to Valencia he soon became a regular in coach Unai Emery's first team, making 74 league appearances in three seasons, scoring five goals.

That earned him international recognition, with his debut coming against Scotland last October. He has won 10 caps to date and has been an ever-present in Spain's five Euro 2012 matches so far, helping them through to Sunday's final.

Alba is Barcelona's first signing of the summer as they build towards next season under new coach Tito Vilanova, who has replaced Pep Guardiola.

Cristiano Ronaldo hits hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Atletico

Ronaldo hits SEVENTH hat-trick of season as Madrid sink Atletico to hold off Barca

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 11 April 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his seventh hat-trick of the season as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico 4-1 to restore their four-point lead at the top of the Primera Division.

The Portuguese's swerving 30-yard free-kick that gave the visitors the lead on 25 minutes was a rare moment of quality in a disjointed first half.

Things livened up after the break when Radamel Falcao headed in from Adrian Lopez's cross, but Real responded positively and after wasting a host of opportunities they retook the lead when Ronaldo dipped another stunning effort over Thibaut Courtois 22 minutes from time.

Unstoppable: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico

Unstoppable: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico

The former Manchester United man then rounded off his hat-trick with a penalty on 82 minutes and Jose Maria Callejon added a fourth five minutes later.

Valencia moved back into third place, and an automatic Champions League berth, with a 4-1 win of their own over Rayo Vallecano at the Mestalla.

Look and learn, Lionel: The former Manchester United forward rivals Messi for potency

Look and learn, Lionel: The former Manchester United forward rivals Messi for potency

Jonas fired Valencia ahead of 40 minutes before they moved up a gear after the interval, Jordi Alba doubling their advantage midway through the second half.

Diego Costa pulled one back almost straight away, but a Jonas penalty and further strike from Pablo Hernandez made the points safe. Sporting Gijon gave their survival hopes a welcome lift as a late goal from Gaston Sangoy saw them come from behind to see off Champions League chasing Levante 3-2.

Take that: Ronaldo smashed in a free-kick to open the scoring at the Vicente Calderon

Take that: Ronaldo smashed in a free-kick to open the scoring at the Vicente Calderon

Valdo scored one and set up another for Arouna Kone as the Valencia club twice went in front, but they were pegged back by goals from Oscar Trejo and Alberto Lora. And Sangoy struck six minutes from time to see Sporting end a run of five league matches without a win.

Jaime Romero scored and was then sent off as 10-man Granada were denied a vital drew 2-2 with Athletic Bilbao.

Spot on: Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a penalty late in the game

Spot on: Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a penalty late in the game

Romero grabbed a second-minute opener before he was dismissed shortly before the break for violent conduct.

Despite being a man down, Alexandre Geijo doubled the home side's lead in the second half before Fernando Llorente pulled one back for Athletic nine minutes before the end.

Markel Susaeta then levelled the scores for the visitors in the 89th minute.

Huth defends weakened Stoke"s performance in Valencia and laments refereeing decisions

Huth defends weakened Stoke's performance in Valencia and laments refereeing decisions

Robert Huth claimed Stoke's performance against Valencia at the Mestalla defied the critics who said Tony Pulis' team selection had effectively raised the white flag in their Europa League last 32 tie.

Although the Potters lost 1-0 to go out 2-0 on aggregate, they turned in a good performance and could consider themselves unlucky with some key refereeing decisions.

Rising to the challenge: Huth says Stoke performed well in the Mestalla

Rising to the challenge: Huth says Stoke performed well in the Mestalla

Los Che struck the crossbar after 90 seconds and took the lead through Jonas in the 24th minute, but there were several chances for Kenwyne Jones while Diego Arismendi looked to have been fouled right on the edge of the Valencia box immediately prior to the hosts' goal.

'Obviously they hit the bar in the first minute, but after that we possibly had the better chances,' Huth said.

'Kenwyne was through a couple of times and there were good crosses coming in but it wasn't to be tonight.

Safe passage: Valencia set up a tie with in the last 16 with PSV Eindhoven

Safe passage: Valencia set up a tie with in the last 16 with PSV Eindhoven

'It would have been great to go 1-0 up and put them under pressure, but they scored against the run of play.

'I thought (it was a foul). (Arismendi) was trying to get through three players and it could have been a free-kick. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't.

'If you watch the game tonight, it's not Stoke to give up. We made a few changes to hopefully improve the team, but today we lost to a good team.'

Hot tempered: Aritz Aduriz clashes with Kenwyne Jones

Hot tempered: Aritz Aduriz clashes with Kenwyne Jones

Stoke were well supported by a band of 4,000 travelling fans, and Huth saluted their efforts after the match.

'They have been brilliant,' he said. 'There are more than 4,000 of them and everywhere you looked you could hear them. We thank the supporters and hopefully we will see them again soon somewhere like this.'

Europa League round-up: Tim Matavz scored twice for PSV Eindhoven

Europa League round-up: Matavz brace sends PSV through as Udinese overcome Greek test

Tim Matavz scored twice as Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven blazed into the last 16 of the Europa League by wrapping up a 6-2 aggregate victory over Trabzonspor.

Matavz's brace helped PSV to a 4-1 second-leg win at the Philips Stadion. The result was a formality by half-time, with the hosts 3-1 up and the Turkish side reduced to 10 men following the sending-off of goalkeeper Tolga Zengin.

The visitors started with hope after a narrow 2-1 loss in Turkey but a 15th-minute Dries Mertens penalty extended PSV's advantage and Matavz and Kevin Strootman extended PSV's lead before Burak Yilmaz pulled one back.

Easy does it: Tim Matavz scored twice for PSV Eindhoven

Easy does it: Tim Matavz scored twice for PSV Eindhoven

Zengin was sent off one minute before the break for handling the ball outside his area and Matavz rounded off a fine display by the Dutch team when he scored his side's fourth and final goal seven minutes after the break.

PSV will face Valencia in the last 16 after Los Che also made it through at the expense of Premier League Stoke.

A 24th-minute goal from Jonas gave the Spanish side a 1-0 win on the night at the Mestalla and a 2-0 aggregate success.

In it goes: Matavz scores for PSV

In it goes: Matavz scores for PSV

Udinese shrugged off the disappointment of a goalless first leg in Italy to hammer PAOK Salonika 3-0 in Greece. Danilo opened the scoring after six minutes and Antonio Floro Flores and Maurizio Domizzi sealed an emphatic victory.

Former Manchester United striker Mame Biram Diouf scored the only goal as Hannover won 1-0 in Belgium to complete a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Club Brugge.

Nacer Chadli's 29th-minute effort earned FC Twente a 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest for a 2-0 aggregate victory, while a goalless draw was good enough for Standard Liege to squeeze past Wisla Krakow 1-1 on aggregate on the away goals rule.

On the scoresheet: Mame Biram Diouf scored the only goal of the game for Hannover against Club Brugge

On the scoresheet: Mame Biram Diouf scored the only goal of the game for Hannover against Club Brugge

Athletic Bilbao beat Lokomotiv Moscow 1-0 to also advance on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate score. Iker Muniain scored the crucial goal two minutes after Fernando Amorebieta's 60th-minute sending-off.

Last year's runners-up Braga were knocked out despite a brave bid to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit. The Portuguese side beat Besiktas 1-0 in Turkey through an early strike by Rodrigo Lima, but lost out 2-1 on aggregate.

Atletico Madrid eased home against Lazio with a 1-0 win on the night giving them a 4-1 aggregate success. Diego Godin scored the only goal early in the second half at the Estadio Vicente.

Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv completed an emphatic 8-1 aggregate win over Salzburg with a 4-1 win in Kharkiv, while Greek side Olympiacos rounded off a 2-0 aggregate win over Rubin Kazan with a 1-0 second leg win.

Hat-trick hero: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar got three goals for Schalke against FC Viktoria Plzen

Hat-trick hero: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar got three goals for Schalke against FC Viktoria Plzen

Matias Fernandez scored a late winner for Sporting Lisbon against Polish side Legia Warsaw, which was enough to see the Portuguese side 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-0 win on the night.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored a hat-trick including two goals in extra-time as Schalke nudged past Viktoria Plzen 3-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

Huntelaar had opened the scoring in the seventh minute but Frantisek Rajtoral struck an 88th-minute equaliser for Plzen despite the sending-off of Marek Bakos on the hour.

However, Schalke dominated extra-time and they were rewarded with Huntelaar putting them ahead in the second half before he sealed victory on the stroke of full-time.

Tony Pulis defends Stoke team to play Valencia

Pulis happy with strength of his team despite his absent friends

Tony Pulis launched a staunch defence of his selection policy after leaving nine of Stoke City’s recognised first-teamers at home.

The Potters’ boss robustly denied he was fielding a weakened team as just 15 players made the trip to Spain.

Regulars such as Matthew Etherington, Peter Crouch, Ryan Shawcross and Jon Walters were deemed surplus to requirements in the face of murmurings among the club’s travelling support.

No weak link: Stoke boss Tony Pulis has launched a defence of the team he has taken to Valencia

No weak link: Stoke boss Tony Pulis has launched a defence of the team he has taken to Valencia

Over three thousand fans from north Staffordshire are expected in the Mestalla to see if their team can overturn a one-goal deficit.

But if they do see Stoke defy the odds the club will have done so without a host of players from first-choice side and with a substitutes’ bench that will be three shy of its’ full complement.

It is not the first time that Premier League bosses have purposely omitted players in the Europa League.

Both Martin O’Neill and Gary Megson trod that path when they were in charge of Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers respectively.

However, Pulis baulked at suggestions that he was not paying the competition due respect, citing a combination of tired legs and niggling injuries as justification.

No go: Matthew Etherington

Staying at home: Peter Crouch

Staying at home: Matthew Ethrington and Peter Crouch are two of the players who have not travelled to Valencia

This Sunday’s game at the Britannia Stadium will be the Potters’ fourth match in 10 days. All told, Thuesday's return leg is their 12th in the Europa League this season.

'Have a look at the team I pick and make your own minds up,' said Pulis, 'I’m quite happy with what I have brought over.

'If you look at the squad, every player I’ve brought over here is an international.

'So it’s not a weak team.

'I’ve looked at it and I’ve got a back four and everyone is a full international – plus the keeper.

Uphill struggle: Mehmet Topal gave Valencia a 1-0 lead at The Britannia

Uphill struggle: Mehmet Topal gave Valencia a 1-0 lead at The Britannia

'I’ve got three midfield players who are full internationals, two out of three forwards who are internationals and my captain has played for his country.

'I don’t think this is a weak team. I’ll have players out there we have paid 20m for.

'We picked up a few injuries on Sunday (against Crawley) so that's precautionary and there is one or two players who have looked over the last two days very tired and very empty, especially the front two, (Jon) Walters and (Peter) Crouch.

'We take a lot of notice of the ProZone stuff and there's one or two there who have been monitored and it's registering that they look empty at the moment, so they need a breather without a question of doubt.

The difference: Topal's goal separates the sides

The difference: Topal's goal separates the sides

'And, of course, we've got one or two injuries as well.'

However, not all of Stoke’s supporters seem pleased with the news.

O’Neill ended up apologising on the plane home to Villa’s fans for his action.

Valencia v Stoke

Sue Bryan, who drove from Madrid to Valencia for Thursday's game: 'I’m a Tony Pulis fan and I believe in him but this is disappointing.

'It’s difficult to say what his best team is, because we have not been winning with his first-team. I’m disappointed but I can see a lot of Stokies who will be more than that. They’ll be up in arms when they hear this.

'Swansea is going to be very difficult now. Supporters are complaining already but if we lose five league games on the bounce on the back of limping out of Europe, it’s difficult to see where he turns next.

'It’s a very awkward situation.'

Valencia manager Unai Emery however, did not take offence at any perceived slight.

'It’s true that there will be a lot of changes,' he said, 'the likes of Crouch and Walters are out. But their manager has taken it in turn this season and changed his players.

'Perhaps he wants other players in, quicker players up front rather than just crossing the ball to Peter Crouch.

'But I don’t think Stoke’s selection shows a lack of respect to the competition because I think this is very important to them. I expect to see the best of them.'