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Emery alert to Stoke threat

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 17 Feb 2012

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Valencia manager Unai Emery is aware of the dangers of his side’s 1-0 win over Stoke City ahead of next week’s Europa League second leg.

Turkish midfielder Mehmet Topal scored the only goal of the game with a stunning effort from 30 yards to claim the win for the Spanish club at Britannia Stadium on Thursday.

However, Emery rates a single goal lead as shaky at best.

“It’s a complicated and dangerous result 1-0, anything can happen and we still fully respect the tie and we respect Stoke City as a football club, if they score at our place it changes the tie and turns it on its head,” Emery said after the victory in England.

The 40-year-old was happy with the attacking pressure his side put on Stoke, identifying movement off the ball and the energy of Brazilian attacker Jonas as crucial factors.

“I think that in the attacking phases of the game I think we did very well because we knew we had to try and cause problems for Stoke in order to alleviate any pressure that they were putting on us,” Emery said.

Emery’s counterpart, Tony Pulis, expressed his disappointment that Valencia midfielder Tino Costa remained on the pitch despite a number of rough challenges on Dean Whitehead, which the Stoke substitute believed could have broken his leg.

“They’re very bad challenges,” the Stoke manager said.

“We’ve been caught a few times in our last couple of games where challenges have been bad and gone over the top of the ball.”

“Again the ref has got a great view, the fourth official and linesman were there as well.”

“It’s very disappointing – they’re talking about cleaning things up. It’s knowing the difference between a good tackle and a bad tackle and sometimes were not getting that.”

But Emery denied his players went too far.

“I think we played the conditions the game was forcing us to play but I wouldn’t say we were hard or excessively aggressive,” the Valencia manager said.

Pulis was also believed his players should have prevented Topal’s goal.

“We never got to the ball quick enough,” Pulis said.

“It was a goal once he had hit it.”

“You could see it was going into the top corner as soon as it came off his foot but we should have done better there.”

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