Gary Neville gets tough debut lesson as Valencia lose to Lyon
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | December 9, 2015
Valencia 0-2 Lyon
- Neville dugout debut ends in defeat
- Bats defender Mustafi hits post early and has goal ruled out
- Cornet and Lacazette strike in either half for Kids
- Los Che drop into Europa League
Perfect pundit experiences managerial misery
Gary Neville now knows the trials and tribulations of being a football manager, as his Valencia side bowed out of the Champions League after seeing a goal ruled out and suffering defeat by Lyon on his Mestalla dugout debut.
Former Everton defender Shkodran Mustafi had earlier hit the post for Los Che with a set-piece header before netting, only to see the referee rule his effort out for an infringement.
The Bats now have to settle for Europa League football in the New Year, thanks to Maxwel Cornet’s stunning strike shortly before half-time and Alexandre Lacazette netting on the counter with 15 minutes left.
Chances go begging
Rafael Da Silva, Neville’s right back successor at Manchester United, also forced Jaume Domenech into a fantastic full-stretch save when he flicked on a Clement Grenier free-kick for Lyon.
Valencia created chances of their own with highly-rated academy products Jose Luis Gaya and Paco Alcacer combining, when the former crossed up from left back and the Spain striker brought a stop out of Kids keeper Anthony Lopes.
Joao Cancelo also worked Lyon’s number one with a strong strike, while Los Che captain Dani Parejo saw a couple of efforts sail wide.
Injury and ban underline school of hard knocks
Bats boss Neville also lost Argentina international midfielder Enzo Perez to injury midway through the first-half. Mustafi, a member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning squad, was booked, meaning he will sit the next European game out through suspension.
Lyon, who were already eliminated from the Champions League and couldn’t drop into the Europa League, played with real freedom and speed, despite being without one of their star turns in Nabil Fekir due to knee ligament damage.
Forthright pundit turned manager Neville’s reign at Valencia and coaching credentials cannot be judged definitely after one game, but little went right on the night. A serial winner had to be a gracious, but perhaps an unlucky loser.
Could Neville meet Man Utd?
Los Che needed Ghent to draw or lose against Group H winners Zenit St Petersburg, but the Belgian boys beat Andre Villas-Boas’ team 2-1, rendering whatever the result at the Mestalla irrelevant.
Neville knows his Bats were far from full strength for this fixture and Spanish football’s winter break will be a welcome interval during which he will hope to have restore more first-team players to full fitness.
With Valencia now in the Europa League, there is the possibility of being drawn with the Red Devils at some later stage of that competition.