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Servette humbled by Valencia

Valencia players celebrate the first of their three goals Keystone

Servette Geneva have been beaten in Europe for the first time this season, going down 3-0 to Spanish league leaders Valencia in the first leg of their UEFA Cup fourth round tie.

This content was published on February 19, 2002 - 21:13

Switzerland's only remaining team in European competition relied on a number of strong performances to reach the fourth round, most notably overcoming German top division side Hertha Berlin in their previous UEFA Cup tie.

But if they are to realise their dream of reaching the competition's quarter-finals, the Swiss minnows will now have to score at least three goals of their own in next Thursday's home leg.

Defensive errors

Defensive errors played a major part in Tuesday's defeat. With just four minutes played, a headed own goal from Brazilian defender Hilton gifted Valencia the lead.

Despite improvements throughout the rest of the first half, Servette suffered a second hammer blow three minutes after the restart when Swiss international Johann Lonfat gave the ball away unnecessarily, allowing Pablo Aimar to double Valencia's advantage.

Hopes that Servette might somehow claw their way back in next week's home leg were then further reduced when Salva Ballesta made it 3-0 on the hour mark, following another needless dispossession - this time to the embarassment of Christophe Jaquet.

"Wilted"

"We struggled to contain the speed of our opponents," Servette coach Lucien Favre admitted afterwards. "We came here with the intention of grabbing at least one goal and we came close a few times. But we had to keep our heads after going 1-0 down and then when the second came the team just wilted."

Valencia coach Rafaël Benitez was understandably happy with his own team's performance on Tuesday and said he would be looking ahead to the return leg in a relatively relaxed state of mind.

"I must say that Servette put up a good fight in the first half," Benitez conceded. "We will we heading to Switzerland next week with lots of concentration but also with a certain degree of tranquility thanks to our three goal cushion."

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