Madrid: Spanish club Valenica took a huge step towards the group stage of the Champions League when they defeated French side Monaco 3-1 in the first leg of their qualifying round.
Valencia players celebrate after scoring during the UEFA Champions League playoff football match between Valencia CF vs AS Monaco FC at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia. Pic/AFP
Goals from Rodrigo, Dani Parejo and Sofianne Feghouli scored the goals which give Valencia a 2-goal cushion to defend in France next Tuesday, Xinhua reported.
Valencia got off to the best possible start on Wednesday after just four minutes when Sofiane Feghouli met a deep cross from left back Jose Gaya, leaving Rodrigo with a simple tap-in from close range.
The Spanish side were on top but were unable to turn their control of the game into clear-cut chances and almost paid for that with 30 minutes on the clock when Monaco caught them on the break.
The ball was played out to the right of the Valencia area where Bernard Silva was able to fire in a low shot and forced a fine save from Valencia keeper Matt Ryan.
Monaco were level early in the second half, however. After 49 minutes, Antonio Martial beat Antonio Barragan down the Valencia right and crossed for Mario Pasalic to push the ball into an empty net.
The parity did not last long before Valencia got back in front with Dani Parejo in the right place to fire home after a knockdown from Pablo Piatti, who replaced Rodrigo de Paul.
Pasalic saw a header well saved by Ryan just ahead of the hour as the game became increasingly anarchic with both sides looking to attack.
Martial was a constant threat to Valencia and his skill at the edge of the Valencia area almost led to Pascilic firing in a powerful shot from the edge of the area.
Feghouli made it 3-1 with a shot from inside the area with four minutes remaining after Monaco failed to clear a corner taken by the home side to make the Spaniards clear favourites to reach the lucrative group stage.