Valencia - A Stefan Mitrovic own goal 18
minutes from time handed Valencia a vital 2-1 win over Gent on Tuesday to edge
the Spaniards closer to the last 16 of the Champions League.
A strong start from Valencia was rewarded
when a combination of Sofiane Feghouli and Gent defender Lasse Nielsen opened
the scoring for the hosts from close range, but Gent went in level at the break
thanks to a stunning strike from Thomas Foket.
However, a better second-half display from
the Belgian champions was undone when Mitrovic turned Jose Luis Gaya's effort
into his own net.
Victory strengthens Valencia's position in
second place in Group H, five points ahead of Gent and Lyon, who lost 3-1 to
group leaders Zenit St Petersburg.
"The first half was the best we have
played all season. We should have finished the game earlier, but the goals will
come," Valencia boss Nuno Espirito Santo told BeIN Sports.
"Gent are a very well-organised team
with a good striker that caused us a lot of problems. Now we have to go there
and I am sure it will be a difficult game."
Valencia should have had the game well
wrapped up by half-time, but were left to rue some wayward finishing and
brilliant goalkeeping by Matz Sels.
Santi Mina missed a one-on-one with the
Gent 'keeper after eight minutes before Shkodran Mustafi headed over when
unmarked from a corner 10 yards out.
The opener did arrive on 15 minutes when
Feghouli swept home his third European goal of the season from Joao Cancelo's
cross with the help of Nielsen.
Sels then made a fantastic double save from
Mina and Dani Parejo and was called into action again from the resulting corner
as he parried Santos's header.
However, the Mestalla was stunned five
minutes before the break when Foket broke forward and fired a spectacular shot
into the top corner.
A much more evenly balanced second period
ensued as nerves crept into a Valencia side that has struggled in La Liga so
far this season.
Spanish international Paco Alcacer should
have restored the hosts' lead when he clipped the ball over the bar with just
Sels to beat.
Yet Valencia got the slice of luck they
needed when Cancelo's cross came back off the crossbar and Gaya's follow-up
effort rebounded off Mitrovic and into his own net.
Gent could still have salvaged a point, but
Jaume Domenech came to Valencia's rescue with a stunning stop to deny Thomas
Matton 10 minutes from time.