PSV Eindhoven's UEFA Europa League aspirations are still alive after two goals in the final seven minutes halved a 4-0 deficit against Valencia CF.
Fred Rutten compared his team's 6-2 capitulation at home to ten-man FC Twente on Saturday to a funeral, and the dirge continued for most of the first leg of this last-16 tie. Two down inside 13 minutes courtesy of Víctor Ruiz's first strike for Valencia and a Stanislav Manolev own goal, further efforts from Roberto Soldado, a penalty, and Pablo Piatti seemingly left them dead and buried. Ola Toivonen's late spot kick and a last-gasp strike from Georginio Wijnaldum revived them.
What a contrast to the opening stages when right-back Antonio Barragán tore through the visitors, afforded as much space as he wanted to ghost forward and deliver his crosses. But for the lack of a hood and sickle he could have been the Grim Reaper himself, such was PSV's reluctance to get close to him. His 11th-minute raid and centre, deflected wide, led to the opener.
The resulting corner was played short, with Piatti fashioning a favourable angle and crossing to the far upright where Ruiz headed in. Barragán played a more obvious role in the second two minutes later, cutting inside Atiba Hutchinson and delivering a cross that speared inside the near post via a combination of Manolev and Soldado.
The visitors were lifeless, grateful for Timothy Derijck's defensive vigilance and Valencia's profligacy for keeping it 2-0. Never more so than when Piatti, all 163cm of him, met Barragán's centre unmarked; Andreas Isaksson scrambled his weak header onto a post. The goalkeeper could do little just before half-time when Soldado sent him the wrong way after Kevin Strootman had brought down Jonas.
Piatti looked to have driven the final nail in PSV's coffin 11 minutes after the restart, springing the offside trap and collecting Daniel Parejo's pass before slotting in. Indeed, Valencia will head to Eindhoven in a week confident of sealing progress even without Soldado, suspended after a booking tonight. Yet the late penalty after Jérémy Mathieu's foul on Strootman and substitute Wijnaldum's 90th-minute effort gives PSV genuine hope.
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