Maxwel Cornet and Alexandre Lacazette ruined Gary Neville’s debut as Valencia coach by firing Lyon to a 2-0 win at the Mestalla on Wednesday to end the Liga side’s Champions League ambitions.
Valencia still had a chance of reaching the knockout stages of the competition in Neville’s first game in charge after replacing Nuno Espirito Santo last week, but had to beat Lyon and hope Gent dropped points against Zenit.
They made an encouraging start to the match and Shkodran Mustafi came close to gifting his side lead twice in the opening stages of the game, even seeing a goal disallowed for an alleged foul.
Their European dreams were dealt a major blow, though, when Cornet opened the scoring with a stunning shot in the top corner.
Lyon continued to threaten on the counter-attack in the remainder of the game and eventually got a second when Lacazette found the net with a calm finish late in the second half.
There were plenty of chances early on and Valencia came incredibly close to opening the scoring after eight minutes of play. Mustafi beat Maxime Gonalons to the ball after a Rodrigo De Paul corner, only to see his powerful header come back off the upright.
The Germany international did find the net just minutes later after yet another corner, but the referee had spotted a foul in the build-up and awarded Lyon a free-kick.
Lyon got a fine chance of their own in the 12th minute after Lacazette sent Cornet through one-on-one with Jaume Domenech, but the Valencia goalkeeper got a foot to it to deny the 19-year-old.
Domenech was again called into action at the half-hour mark, pulling off a superb save to deny Rafael after the former Manchester United defender had connected with a free-kick from the right.
Lyon shot stopper Anthony Lopes made his first noteworthy save shortly after, keeping out Paco Alcacer’s header from 10 yards after a pinpoint cross from the left by Jose Gaya.
Cornet broke the deadlock in the 37th minute and the Lyon youngster did so in spectacular fashion. The attacker collected the ball near the touchline down the right wing, cut inside and then curled home a fantastic strike in the top corner as he was surrounded by three defenders.
Valencia struggled to create chances of note from open play in the early stages of the second half, prompting substitute Javi Fuego to try his luck from long range on the hour mark, but Lopes comfortably saved his attempt.
Sergi Darder should have doubled Lyon’s lead with 20 minutes to go after a quick counter-attack, but he failed to find the net from close range after being set up by Lacazette.
Dani Parejo could have levelled the scoring after a corner, but the Valencia skipper rushed his shot and aimed wide.
The visitors continued to look dangerous on the break and eventually got a second goal in the 76th minute. Corentin Tolisso found Lacazette with a clever throughball and the France international coolly slotted home after shrugging off Aymen Abdennour to effectively put the match to bed.
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