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Stoke City 0-1 Valencia CF
Valencia overcame Stoke City 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League Last 32 clash at the Britannia Stadium on Thursday night, thanks to a wonder strike by Mehmet Topal.
Despite the solitary goal, Los Che were dominant for large periods of the match and surprisingly dealt with threat of Stoke superbly well throughout the 90 minutes.
It was the home side who started brighter in this match, as they began threatening Valencia with long throws and corners early on as expected.
Jonathan Walters could’ve put Stoke ahead inside the first minute as he got in behind the Valencia defence but dragged his shot wide from a difficult angle.
Stoke were backed by an amazing and hostile atmosphere created by their fans and they almost scored with their first long-throw of the night but Walters was inches away from getting his head onto Delap’s delivery.
Valencia took a while to settle into the match but finally managed to exert themselves in the game midway through the first half as Jonas came close to giving them the lead.
The Brazilian played a neat one-two with Piatti before seeing his left footed effort well saved by Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal after some neat footwork.
Valencia were camped inside the Stoke half from then on and it seemed only a matter of time until they scored and it arrived in stunning fashion.
Mehmet Topal picked up a loose ball and after a few touches to set himself, hit a rocket of a shot from 30 yards into the top corner. It was only the Turk’s second goal for the club, but it was something special.
Stoke came very close to an equaliser shortly after but Peter Crouch saw his acrobatic bicycle kick go just over.
Valencia were content to defend their 1-0 advantage in the second half and hardly got forward, but they came very close to a second when Feghouli’s left-footed effort hit the post after an excellent counter-attacking move involving Mathieu and Piatti.
Stoke hardly troubled Guaita in the goal, the closest they came was from a defelcted shot by Shotton but Guaita was equal to it.
The Spaniard retuned in goal after a few months out and was superb all night. He dealt with Stoke’s set-pieces excellently and he constantly took the presure off his defenders by coming to claim many balls and punching them out when necessary.
Overall it was a fantastic away display in Europe by Valencia and with an away goal to take back to the Mestalla for the second leg, they already have one foot in the last 16 of the Europa League.
Stoke City: Begovic, Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Wilson (Shotton, min 69), Pennant, Delap, Palacios (Whitehead, min 53), Etherington, Walters, Crouch (Jerome, min 69)
Valencia CF: Guaita, Bruno (Miguel, min 81), Rami, Dealbert, Mathieu, Topal, Tino Costa, Feghouli, Jonas, Piatti (Bernat, min 88, Aduriz (Soldado, min 77)