Valencia eliminated in Gary Neville's debut as head coach

Valencia eliminated in Gary Neville's debut as head coach

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Valencia was eliminated from the Champions League after a 2-0 home loss to Lyon in new coach Gary Neville's first game in charge on Wednesday.

Maxwel Cornet & Alexandre Lacazette scored a goal in each half to donate already-eliminated Lyon its first win in the competition this season & end Valencia's chances of advancing to the round of 16.

"They were better than us & there's no excuse," Neville said. "We can't be pleased with how we played & we can't blame anyone. We have a fight in front of us, an objective. Today we simply weren't satisfactory enough."

p>Not even a win would have been enough for Valencia as Gent defeated Zenit St. Petersburg 2-1 in Belgium to secure second place in Group H & a spot in the knockout stage.

Zenit won the group with 15 points from six games, five points ahead of Gent. Valencia finished third with six points, satisfactory enough for a spot in the Europe League. Lyon was last in the group with four points.

Valencia needed a win as well as Gent losing points against already-qualified Zenit in the other group game.

"I think we had lead in our legs, as if we had played another game today," Neville said. "We were the better side in the first half, yet in the second we conceded a lot of counterattacks & conceded the second goal. Lyon have satisfactory attacking players yet we should have done much better."

Neville took over Valencia on Sunday, a day after the former Manchester United & England defender watched his new team draw 1-1 with Barcelona in the Spanish league.

Valencia received off to a swift start at the Mestalla Stadium, with defender Shkodran Mustafi hitting the post with a header in the eighth minute & having a goal disallowed just minutes after for a foul inside the area.

"This was one of those games where you have possession yet they end up scoring," Mustafi said. "They did a satisfactory job, because they scored two goals with two shots. Against Barcelona everyone saw that we are a team that can play well against the best sides. I think today we were just missing the final pass."

Already eliminated & playing without pressure, Lyon moreover threatened, forcing Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech to make two tremendous saves early on to keep his team in contention.

But there was nothing he could do to stop Cornet's remarkable shot into the top corner in the 37th, & Lacazette sealed Lyon's win with a low shot after a counterattack in the 76th.

The victory should assist ease criticism of Lyon coach Hubert Fournier. In addition to being eliminated from all European competition, his team has taken only one point from its last four French league games.

"It's a satisfactory feeling," Lyon captain Maxime Gonalons said. "We have had tough moments in this competition. We had nothing to lose here. We showed, at least, we can produce satisfactory things."

Valencia was trying to become the fourth Spanish team to reach the round of 16, along with defending champion Barcelona, Real Madrid & Atletico Madrid. Sevilla was eliminated on Tuesday.

Neville had to deal with a series of injuries that ruled out defenders Antonio Barragan & Lucas Orban, midfielder Andre Gomes, & forwards Sofiane Fegholi & Rodrigo Moreno.

To make things worse, Enzo Perez had to be replaced early in the first half, moreover because of an injury.

Source: “Associated Press”