Valencia began the post Mauricio Pellegrino era with victory over Lille but it wasn’t enough to win Champions League Group F.
Salvador ‘Voro’ Gonzalez was filling in for newly appointed Coach Ernesto Valverde on Valencia’s bench, and chose Nelson Valdez to replace the suspended Roberto Soldado up front. It was a special occasion for centre backs Adil Rami and Ricardo Costa, who were both formerly on the books at Lille. Veteran David Albelda, who was very critical of his teammates in midweek, was handed a rare start.
Los Che were hoping BATE Borisov would do them a favour against Bayern Munich but fulfilled their own part of the bargain by taking the lead ten minutes before half time at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole. Jonas - who scored a brace in the first meeting between the sides – was brought down by Marko Basa, and stroked the resultant penalty into the bottom corner.
Substitutions helped Lille gather momentum in the second half, with Valdez forced to clear a Ronny Rodelin effort off the line. Jonas almost sealed the points in the 73rd minute though, shooting just wide at the end of a neat passing move.
Vicente Guaita produced two excellent saves in the last 10 minutes to preserve Valencia’s lead, one from Salomon Kalou’s shot and one from substitute Nolan Roux’s header. Another sub, Dmitri Payet, rattled the crossbar.
Lille 0 Valencia 1
Scorers: Jonas 36 (V)
Lille: Elana; Beria, Basa, Chedjou, Digne; Gueye, Mavuba (Martin 55), Balmont (Payet 70); Kalou, Bruno (Roux 77), Rodelin
Valencia: Guaita; R Costa, Ruiz (Viera 84), Rami, Cissokho; T Costa, Albelda (Gago 74) ; Feghouli (Piatti 61), Jonas, Guardado; Valdez
Ref: Stavrev (MKD)