Topal's screamer topples Stoke

Stoke City 0 Valencia 1

Stoke will have to win in the Mestalla next week if their European adventure is to continue after Valencia shaded the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash at the Britannia Stadium tonight.

Mehmet Topal netted the only goal of the game in the 36th minute with a 30-yard screamer that gave Asmir Begovic absolutely no chance.

Sofiane Feghouli also hit the post in the second half while Stoke, who have lost their past four Barclays Premier League games, were limited to half chances.

Potters boss Tony Pulis described the tie as one of the greatest occasions in the club's history and there was certainly a big difference between the teams in terms of experience, with Valencia playing their 100th game in the Europa League or UEFA Cup compared to Stoke's 15th.

Los Che won the competition in 2004 and are once again the best of the rest in Spain this season, sitting third behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The cliche about European teams normally involves asking how they would fare on a wet evening in Stoke, and the hosts were quick to test their opponents, with Jon Walters benefiting from a misplaced header but firing well wide of target.

Vicente Guaita, preferred to Diego Alves in goal because of his prowess at dealing with crosses, coped well with two Matthew Etherington corners but the first Rory Delap long throw caused panic in the Valencia defence and surely would have cost them a goal had Walters managed to get his head on it.

The visitors were treated to jeers and shouts of 'boring' when they finally managed to string some passes together, but Stoke were grateful to keeper Begovic for a great save to deny Jonas after he jinked his way through the defence in the 21st minute.

Valencia's class was beginning to tell and the Stoke defence were called upon to make a number of blocks, while Huth flicked a curling shot from Tino Costa behind.

The Spaniards seemed determined to walk the ball into the net so there was a certain irony that their opening goal after 36 minutes came from a thundering 30-yard shot from Topal that left Begovic pawing at thin air.

Feghouli then fired just wide as Valencia turned the screw but Stoke were almost level moments later when a peach of a cross from Jermaine Pennant was met by Crouch's acrobatic volley that flew just over the crossbar.

Stoke, who did beat Valencia when the sides met in a friendly at the Britannia in 2004, desperately needed something to take with them to the Mestalla next week.

Pennant's crosses looked their most likely creative source and he almost picked out the head of Walters with another gem 11 minutes into the second half.

Pulis had made his first change by that point, sending on Dean Whitehead for the ineffectual Wilson Palacios, while Huth had to be alert to cut out a dangerous low ball from Feghouli at the near post.

Cameron Jerome and Ryan Shotton came on for Crouch and Marc Wilson, but Stoke almost found themselves two behind in the 71st minute when Feghouli again found space down the right.

He jinked his way into a shooting position in the middle of the box and was desperately unlucky to see the ball bounce off the inside of the post and onto Begovic but not find its way into the net.

Stoke continued to probe and Huth stabbed a shot wide from Etherington's corner before Shotton's 25-yard effort deflected off a defender but Guaita recovered just in time.

Leading scorer Soldado, who had reportedly been struggling with illness, came on for the final 13 minutes but the visitors were more than happy to settle for a one-goal victory.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing