Sofiane Feghouli knew Valencia would need to play a counter-attacking game to beat Lyon after his goal clinched a first Champions League Group H win for the Spaniards.
Feghouli struck a first-half thunderbolt that proved decisive in a game full of chances at the Stade Gerland with five efforts repelled by the woodwork.
The win gives Valencia their first points of a European campaign that began with a 3-2 defeat to Zenit St Petersburg, and Feghouli praised his team-mates’ performance throughout a tense contest.
He said: “It was very important to win. The pace was hellish.
“We have done very well, created chances in the first half. In the second we sat back and we suffered a little.
“We knew that we would have the space to counter and we have taken advantage.”
Valencia will be keen to take some winning form into La Liga, where they sit in eighth place after a mixed start to the season.
Feghouli added: “This remains a difficult start to the season. We’re playing well, but no team i
s showing signs that it is united and knows what it wants.”