Valencia wins to stay in contention in Champions League
VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Valencia’s drought at home is over. Just in time to boost the team’s chances in the Champions League.
Valencia beat Young Boys 3-1 on Wednesday for its first win in seven matches at its Mestalla Stadium, keeping alive its hopes of advancing to the knockout stages of the European competition.
The victory — Valencia’s third overall this season — left the Spanish team with five points in Group H, four behind leader Juventus and two behind Manchester United, which beat Juventus 2-1 later Wednesday in Turin. Swiss champion Young Boys, on debut in the group stage, remained on one point and was already out of contention.
“It was a decisive match for us,” said Valencia forward Santi Mina, who scored twice in the first half. “These three points are important and we are more alive than ever. We know it’s all in our hands now. If we win the last two matches we will advance.”
Young Boys played a man down from the 77th minute after Sekou Sanogo was sent off with a straight red card for a dangerous sliding tackle on Valencia midfielder Francis Coquelin.
Mina opened the scoring from close range in the 14th after an angled shot by Carlos Soler hit the post. Young Boys equalized with a low strike by Roger Assale in the 37th, but Mina put the hosts ahead again five minutes following Soler’s cross from the right.
Soler scored the third on a breakaway in the 56th, sending a low shot into the far corner for an emotional goal for the 21-year-old midfielder who played for Valencia’s youth squads.
“One Champions League night, when I was aged about 11, I helped take the UEFA symbol out to the center circle and shake it during the anthem,” he said. “I dreamed I’d play here and score in this competition. Now I have.”
Despite entering the season with high expectations after a fourth-place finish in the Spanish league, Valencia has had a disappointing campaign so far.
It has drawn 10 of its 16 matches, with three wins and three losses. It is 15th in the Spanish league standings, two points away from the relegation zone after 11 matches.
This was the first time that Valencia scored more than two goals in a game this season.
Young Boys made it to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time this season after ending a 32-year wait for a Swiss league title.
On Nov. 27, Valencia visits Juventus, while Young Boys plays at Manchester United.