Soccer

Valencia, PSV Eindhoven upset in Europa League openers

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The Canadian Press
9/19/2013 3:39:23 PM
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MANCHESTER, England -- Valencia and PSV Eindhoven slumped to humiliating home losses as the Europa League threw up some early surprises in the opening round of group-stage matches on Thursday.

Languishing near the bottom of the Spanish league, Valencia's woes deepened by losing 3-0 to Swansea in Group A, sparking a brief walkout by a section of fans midway through the match in protest at the team's poor performances.

Swansea secured its greatest ever result by capitalizing on the 10th-minute sending-off of Valencia centre back Adil Rami to score through Wilfried Bony, Michu and Jonathan de Guzman at the Mestalla.

"I am so pleased for everybody because now they know they can play against the biggest clubs in the biggest stadiums without any problem," said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, who fielded six Spanish players in his lineup -- more than Valencia.

Bulgarian minnow Ludogorets Razgrad provided a second upset of the night by scoring twice in the final half hour to win 2-0 at PSV, which was European champion in 1988 and also won the UEFA Cup 10 years earlier.

Tottenham, among the favourites this season having embarked on a summer spending spree, restored some normality by cruising past Tromso 3-0 thanks to two first-half goals by Jermain Defoe, while Fiorentina beat Pacos Ferreira 3-0, Lazio defeated Legia Warsaw 1-0, two-time former champion Sevilla won 2-1 at tournament debutant Estoril, and Real Betis drew 0-0 with Lyon.

All 48 teams were in action across 12 groups in Europe's second-tier competition, but there was no doubt where the standout scoreline was.

Valencia went down to its biggest home loss in Europe since a 5-1 defeat to Inter Milan in 2004, adding another chapter to Swansea's remarkable rise from a financially troubled fourth-tier club in the English league 10 years ago to a first major trophy (last season's League Cup) and then this famous European win.

The writing was on the wall as soon as Rami was given a straight red for pulling back Bony when the striker was through on goal. Swansea toyed with the hosts at times with its easy-on-the-eye passing game and Bony finished off a flowing move in the 14th minute to put the Welsh team ahead.

A group of Valencia supporters emptied the stand in the bottom tier behind one of the goals for 10 minutes at the start of the second half in protest, returning just in time to see Michu -- one of Swansea's Spanish contingent -- add a second in the 58th from compatriot Ajejandro Pozuelo's through-ball. De Guzman completed the scoring with a fabulous, curling free kick from long range in the 62nd.

"I am the same as the players," said Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic, whose club has sold many of its best players over the past couple of seasons. "I am responsible for the situation, it is not just about the players. The performance was not good enough."

Valencia, traditionally one of the biggest clubs in Spain, has lost three of its first four matches in La Liga to lie 16th.

It was a good night for English Premier League clubs, with Tottenham able to rest a number of its leading players but still easily overcome Tromso at White Hart Lane in Group K.

Defoe started ahead of Roberto Soldado, who left Valencia over the summer, and made the most of a rare opportunity by chipping the goalkeeper for the first goal in the 21st minute then sliding another good finish into the corner in the 29th. Substitute Christian Eriksen curled a 20-yarder brilliantly into the top corner for a late third but the win was tarnished by injuries to Mousa Dembele and Danny Rose.

Gonzalo Rodriguez, Ryder Matos and Giuseppe Rossi were the scorers for Fiorentina, which wasn't too hindered by the absence to injury of prized striker Mario Gomez, while fellow Italian side Lazio relied on Brazilian midfielder Hernanes' goal in the 53rd minute to see off Legia at home.

Kevin Gameiro scored Sevilla's winner in Portugal after Bruno Miguel cancelled out Victor Machin's opener for the visitors.

Eintracht Frankfurt crushed Bordeaux 3-0, Genk won 1-0 at Dynamo Kyiv and there were also victories for Salzburg, Rubin Kazan and AZ Alkmaar.

Valencia dejected (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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