Valencia were forced to settle for second place in Group F despite their 1-0 victory away to Lille in Wednesday night’s Champions League group stage finale.
The La Liga side were already assured a spot in the next round before kick-off, but there was still a chance that Valencia could topple Bayern Munich from top spot if they managed to better the German side’s result against BATE Borisov.
Borisov unfortunately offered little resistance against Munich, who won the fixture 4-1 in front of their ecstatic home fans and cemented their first-place finish in Group F.
Valencia came closest to opening the scoring midway through the first half when Andres Guardado was fouled by Franck Beria and Miguel Costa drifted a well-aimed cross into the danger area, only for Lille goalkeeper Steve Elana to save Adil Rami’s header at goal.
At the other end Lille made a chance of their own from a free-kick, but Marko Basa could only header the ball over the bar from close range after a nicely floated ball in from Lucas Digne.
The French side finally forced Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to make a save when Antonio Mavuba struck an effort at goal from 20 yards out, but the keeper did well to prevent the ball finding the net.
Former Chelsea player Salomon Kalou fired over, before Florent Balmont ensured Guaita had to stay focused once again with an attempt at goal, and the home side were begging to enjoy the game.
But everything fell apart for the hosts just moments later as Jonas was fouled in the penalty area by Basa, and Jones dusted himself off and powered a fierce penalty past Elana and into the back of the net.
Valencia could have doubled their lead a few minutes later through a Sofiane Feghouli effort as the Spanish side went in search of a second goal, but Lille it was Lille who came out after the half-time interval with real purpose, with chances from Ronny Rodelin and Gianni Bruno providing some nervous moments for the travelling fans.
Guaita did well to hold onto the ball as he plucked a threatening corner out of the air from Marvin Martin, and then the goalkeeper should have been troubled when Bruno connected with the ball 12 yards out with his head, but the player should have done better as he sent his header off target, just past the post.
Dimitrie Payet rattled the post late on for Lille as they searched for an equaliser and a point to add to their miserable Champions League tally, but the game fizzled out when news of Bayern Munich’s comfortable lead over BATE Borisov circulated around the stadium and Valencia knew they would finish Group F behind the German side even with all three points.
It was a good night for Ernesto Valverde who took charge of his first game at Valencia after his appointment as their new manager on Monday.