Valencia wins 1-0 away to Lille as Jonas scores
(AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
LILLE, France (AP) Jonas scored from the penalty spot as Valencia won 1-0 away to Lille in the Champions League on Wednesday, although it was not enough to guarantee top spot in Group F because Bayern Munich also won.
Bayern, which thrashed BATE Borisov 4-1, finished top of the group because of a superior head to head record with Valencia - beating the Spanish club at home and drawing away.
"In the last 16 I want the easiest possible opponent, but it will be complicated," Valencia midfielder David Albelda said. "Schalke are theoretically easiest, but it will still be difficult."
Lille finished in last place behind Belarusian club BATE and failed to qualify for the knockout stage for the second straight season.
Jonas, who scored both goals when Valencia beat Lille 2-0 at home in October, scored from the spot in the 36th minute after being fouled by Lille defender Marko Basa.
Valencia fired Mauricio Pellegrino on Saturday and new coach Ernesto Valverde will not have enjoyed the second half as Lille came back into the game.
"We had some good chances, unfortunately it wasn't enough," Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. "We were average in the first half but more adventurous in the second half."
The French club went close to equalizing late on.
Lille pushed forward in numbers in the closing stages, forcing four corners in two minutes, and Valenica goalkeeper Vicente Guaita made a tremendous save in the 84th, tipping Salomon Kalou's close-range effort around the post after he expertly brought down a long ball.
Finally showing the attacking intent it should have done at the start of the campaign, Lille almost scored again two minutes later when winger Dimitri Payet's curling free kick hit the crossbar. Striker Nolan Roux headed wide in the last minute from a good position, and Basa went close in injury time with a bicycle kick.
"The result does not reflect how the game went," Lille right back Lucas Digne said. "We had a few chances but we failed to convert and have to work on this."
Guaita made another good save early in the second half to deny striker Gianni Bruno, but up until then Valencia had been the better side as Lille looked short on ideas and lacked creativity.
Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli was a threat for Valencia early on with his darting runs down the right, and he had a great chance to play in midfielder Ricardo Costa, only to over-hit the pass.
Returning to play against the club which sold him to Valencia last season, France center half Adil Rami rose to meet a free kick in the 18th but Lille goalie Steeve Elana made a smart save.
Updated December 5, 2012