A late push from Monaco at the Stade Louis II couldn’t overcome the lead Alberto Negredo helped Valencia reinforce, with Los Che using the striker’s fourth minute goal in the second leg of the teams’ UEFA Champions League playoff to secure a 4-3 aggregate victory, one that gives Spain five teams in this season’s Champions League group stage.
Thanks in large part to last week’s 3-1 victory at the Mestalla Stadium, Valencia washable to withstand Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, joining Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla in the tournament’s 32-team main phase. It’s the first time a single federation has qualified five teams for the tournament’s group stage.
Barcelona qualified for the competition as the competition’s holders, having won the European title in June, but would have also qualified by virtue of winning Spain’s Primera Division last season. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Spain’s second and third place finishers, respectively, qualified with their league finishes, while Sevilla advanced straight into the Champions League’s final 32 after winning last season’s Europa League.
Valencia, fourth place finishers in Spain last season, were forced to qualify through UEFA’s Champions League playoffs and were within one goal of being forced into extra time in Monaco. But France’s third place finishers, quarterfinalists in last year’s competition, were unable to build on Guido Carrillo’s 75th score. Within one goal of extending the match another 30 minutes, Monaco’s Champions League hopes ran out of time, with the one-goal aggregate defeat relegating them to the Europa League.
The match took a decisive turn early when Negredo, given the starting nod over Paco Alcacer, scored in the fourth minute to pull Valencia even on away goals. The tally also made the score 4-1, eliminating Monaco’s tie-breaker edge, forcing the hosts to score three times.
Monaco pulled one goal back early when defender Andrea Raggi beat Valencia goalkeeper Mat Ryan from the middle of the penalty area to make it 4-2. But it would be another 57 minutes before Monaco would get halve their deficit, leaving them too little time to find an equalizer.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Shakhtar Donetsk defended last week’s 1-0 win at Rapid Wien with a 2-2 draw in Lviv.
Malmo overturned its 3-2 deficit against Celtic with a 2-0 victory at Swedbank Stadium.
Dinamo Zagreb built on its 2-1 lead with a 4-1 win over Albanian champions Skenderbeu Korce.
Basel was upset by Maccabi Tel Aviv when a 2-2 draw in Israel allowed the hosts to advance on away goals, 3-3.
Champions League’s playoffs continue on Wednesday, with this season’s group stage draw scheduled to be held Thursday in Monaco.
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