The slim hopes of IF Elfsborg making their debut in the UEFA Champions League group stage were dashed by a clinical display from two-time finalists Valencia CF, who became the first visiting team to win in Boras in eight months.
Valencia, runners-up in 2000 and 2001, added to the 3-0 advantage they built-up at Mestalla two weeks ago by winning 2-1 at the home of the Swedish champions with Iván Helguera and David Villa securing their progress from the third qualifying round despite the brief cheer of a Daniel Alexandersson goal for the hosts. Elfsborg had already come through two rounds to make it to the brink of the group stage, twice winning 1-0 on aggregate against Linfield FC and Debreceni VSC, but knew their dream of claiming the biggest scalp in the club's history was fading as soon as Helguera scored when unmarked with just five minutes on the clock.
The home crowd, who have become accustomed to cheering their heroes to victory, watched their team battle bravely, however, and were on their feet on the half-hour when Alexandersson found the net. Indeed Elfsborg continued to hold their own against their more experienced opponents, with Anders Svensson and Denni Avdic impressing in midfield, but Magnus Haglund's side were even denied the satisfaction of a second-leg draw as Villa scored for Valencia in the final seconds.
"We make a mistake for their [first] goal, and you can't afford to do that in games like this - after that we played for the fans and did well," said striker Fredrik Berglund. "We needed to put pressure on them early on in the game, and try to break up their play early on," added coach Haglund. "Their early goal made it virtually impossible for us, so it killed the game. We did well, but Swedish clubs in general will always struggle against world-class sides like Valencia."
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