Sergio Canales struck four minutes from time as Valencia CF broke FC St Gallen's hearts in Switzerland to book themselves a berth in the knockout phase.
The home side, down to ten men since the 56th minute, looked set for a memorable point when Canalas swooped to make it 3-2, ending their valiant effort. It was the second occasion the Spanish side had taken the lead and this time there was no denying them as they sealed a win that lifted them to the Group A summit and through to the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
Pablo Piatti, an early replacement for the injured Fede Cartabia, had broken the deadlock on the half-hour mark, reacting first when Canales hit the woodwork with a free-kick. Yet a repeat of Valencia's 5-1 triumph when the sides met a fortnight ago was never on the cards. Stéphane Besle headed in from close range to make it 1-1 before the break and though Philippe Montandon was sent off after bringing down Jonas, Daniel Lopar denied the Brazilian from the spot.
Goran Karanovic briefly raised hopes of a famous win with a fine strike and though Piatti equalised, a point looked St Gallen's for the taking – until Canales and his left foot intervened. The hosts were applauded off but, now five points adrift of second spot, their UEFA Europa League ambitions hang by a thread.