Servette FC 2-2 Valencia CF (Agg: 2-5)
An under-strength Valencia CF cruised into the UEFA Cup quarter-finals after a 2-2 second-leg draw with Servette FC completed a 5-2 aggregate victory.
The Spanish side now face Internazionale FC in the next round where they will come up against former coach Héctor Cúper, the man who led them to successive UEFA Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001.
The encounter with Servette was effectively settled last week when Valencia triumphed 3-0 at the Mestalla stadium. Coach Rafael Benítez was clearly confident going into the return and decided to rest regulars such as Adrian Ilie, Pablo Aimar, Roberto Ayala and Kily González.
The changes mattered little at the Charmilles stadium as any realistic hope the Swiss side had of overturning the deficit was extinguished in the 12th minute when Juan Sánchez gave Valencia the lead. After a mazy run, the striker's low shot cannoned off the heel of the unfortunate Thierno Bah and looped into the net.
This away goal meant Servette had to score five to win the tie, a task which always looked beyond them despite Robert's 37th-minute equaliser. The Brazilian forward was in the right place to convert a rebound from Alexander Frei's fierce snapshot. However, Valencia restored their lead on the stroke of half-time when slick passing between Sánchez and Vicente Rodríguez created a clear opening for Miguel Angulo who guided the ball into the top corner from ten metres.
With their quarter-final place secure, Valencia attempted to run down the clock but their passing lacked consistency and Servette undoubtedly had the better of the second half. Frei squandered two one-on-one situations before he finally notched Servette's second in the 67th minute with a crisp finish after good work from Robert.
The goal lifted the vociferous home support who wanted to see their more illustrious visitors at least beaten on the night. But the closest Servette came to a winner was Robert's low drive from the edge of the box which was comfortably saved by Valencia's stand-in goalkeeper, Andrés Palop.
'A little bit sad'
Given the contrasting statures of the two clubs, Servette coach Lucien Favre said he was proud of his team. "We are a little bit
sad because it is the end of our adventure," he said. "We have to take the positive from the game. We drew 2-2 against one of the best teams in Europe." For his part, Benítez was "very satisfied" with the result, adding: "The first goal was very important, it changed the tone of the game."