Valencia gain momentum with second win
After a tough start, Valencia finding momentum with two straight wins
(Sofiane Feghouli 42)
As Valencia owner Peter Lim considers legal action against former vice-president Miguel Zorio, who has accused the Singaporean billionaire of mismanaging the club's finances, the team's fortunes on the pitch appear to have taken a turn for the better.
Los Che claimed their second straight victory yesterday morning (Singapore time), an impressive 1-0 away triumph over French outfit Lyon in the Champions League group stages, following another 1-0 win over Granada in a La Liga fixture last Friday.
Their latest victory, courtesy of a Sofiane Feghouli thunderbolt in the 42nd minute at the Stade de Gerland, earned coach Nuno Espirito Santo some reprieve as he tries to overcome a shaky start this season.
The three points should inject some confidence back into a team who had lost their opening group game 3-2 at home to Zenit St Petersburg a fortnight ago.
More importantly for Nuno, Valencia have found some momentum.
In an exclusive interview with The New Paper yesterday, the 41-year-old Portuguese expressed his delight at seeing his side eke out a win in Europe's premier club competition.
He said: "Team before self, commitment and cooperation are the main values of this team and we have seen all these again in this match against a very strong opponent (Lyon).
"I want to congratulate the whole team. There are four difficult games left (in the group stage) and we need to improve and give of our best to continue in this great competition."
Nuno has been drawing flak in recent months.
Last season, there were pats on the back after he led the team to fourth spot in La Liga to qualify for this season's Champions League.
However, they are now eighth in the domestic table, five points adrift of fourth spot, having won just twice in six La Liga outings.
Disappointed by the poor start, sections of Valencia fans have reportedly turned on him, making their feelings known through jeers at recent games.
Asked if he is feeling the pressure, Nuno replied: "Valencia are a very big club and all our fans expect a great performance from us.
"I understand it, and I accept the responsibility that comes with this challenge.
"Our fans and us share the same goal: To win every match.
"The only way to do it is with their help and by working very hard."
He acknowledged that there is plenty of work to be done.
Goals, for instance, have been hard to come by. Including yesterday's result, Valencia have scored only two goals in their last four matches.
"We are making good progress and working hard, but we need to improve, to address different issues such as our finishing," said Nuno.
"We have new players and a lot of matches to play, so we focus only on the next match.
"I have trust in this team and I'm convinced that we'll achieve our main goals this season."
To be sure, the next few weeks won't be easy.
They face a difficult trip on Sunday when they play Athletic Bilbao in La Liga. After the international break, they host Malaga on Oct 17, followed by a Champions League home match against Gent and a crunch La Liga clash at Atletico Madrid on Oct 25.
Last year's takeover by Singapore's Lim has raised hopes that Valencia, Champions League runners-up in 2000 and 2001, can return to the top once more.
And Nuno reflects that sentiment, saying: "We need to come back to Champions League season after season and compete against the best. It's not just for the money. It's also important to the goals we set and maintaining the legacy of the club."
We started with a lot of personality. We played our game and, if there’s anything to correct, it’s our second half: We dropped back and let them create danger.
— Valencia’s match-winner Sofiane Feghouli
- LYON: Anthony Lopes, Christophe Jallet, Samuel Umtiti, Milan Bisevac, Jeremy Morel (Rachid Ghezzal 78), Maxime Gonalons, Corentino Tolisso, Mathieu Valbuena, Sergi Darder (Jordan Ferri 43), Alexandre Lacazette (Claudio Beauvue 74), Aldo Kalulu
- VALENCIA: Jaume Domenech, Joao Cancelo, Shkodran Mustafi, Aymen Abdennour (Aderlan de Jesus 59), Lucas Orban, Enzo Perez (Danilo 84), Javi Fuego, Sofiane Feghouli, Daniel Parejo, Pablo Piatti, Alvaro Negredo (Rodrigo 71)
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now