Valencia reaches Champions League group stage despite loss to Monaco

MONACO (AP) — Valencia lost 2-1 at Monaco but advanced from their Champions League playoff on an aggregate 4-3 score Tuesday, giving Spain a record five teams in the group phase of Europe's top-tier competition.

Valencia had won the first leg 3-1, and Alvaro Negredo gave the visiting side a great start in the fourth minute at Stade Louis II.

The former Manchester City striker poached Fabinho's misplaced backpass and stroked an exquisite chipped shot that goalkeeper Danijel Subasic could only watch as it floated over his head before landing in the net.

Andrea Raggi made it 1-1 for Monaco in the 18th and Elderson netted in the 75th to leave the hosts one goal from forcing extra time.

A former two-time finalist, Valencia met new owner Peter Lim's objective of returning to the Champions League after a two-year absence.

Valencia will join defending champion Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Europa League winner Sevilla as the five-team contingent from la Liga in Thursday's group phase draw.

Even before Negredo's great goal, Valencia had gone close to scoring when Subasic stretched his leg to deny Shkodran Mustafi from a corner kick.

But he was helpless to stop Negredo's sublime shot.

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​Negredo wasted no time after picking up Fabinho's pass as he dribbled forward with his head down before surprising Subasic with a gentle strike from the left side of the area.

After Negredo narrowly missed scoring a second when he shot high in the 10th, Monaco responded against the flow of play as Raggi slotted a ball the defense failed to clear inside the upright.

Valencia, however, remained in control and went close to scoring again through headers by Dani Parejo and Rodrigo Moreno before halftime.

Valencia then faded in the last half hour, and Elderson ensured a tense finale after he finished off a rebound off goalkeeper Matthew Ryan's save from a deflected free kick.

Monaco pressed Valencia into its area but couldn't level the tie.

 

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