Diego Alves reflected on a particularly satisfying penalty save after his stop from Roman Bezjak's spot kick preserved Valencia CF's early lead and helped them push on to claim an eventual 3-0 triumph at PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. "I have saved a lot of penalties but this one is really pleasing," said Alves, while team-mate and goalscorer Philippe Senderos hailed a "big job" by Juan Antonio Pizzi's side who posted a club-record fifth consecutive away win in European competition.
As for Ludogorets, the first defeat of their inaugural UEFA Europa League campaign left defender Tero Mäntylä wondering what might have been had they taken their chances in front of an "amazing" capacity crowd in Sofia.
Diego Alves, Valencia goalkeeper
Ludogorets did a great job against Lazio, winning in Italy and drawing here, and they put us under pressure early on – we got the goal but they responded by pushing us back. They had a penalty and then had a shot against a post but from there the match changed. I have saved a lot of penalties but this one is really pleasing because it helped the team push on and get a brilliant result. When a team saves a penalty, it gives you all a lift.
Philippe Senderos, Valencia defender
We were expecting such an atmosphere and a difficult game and the difference is that we took our chances and we have a lot of quality. We know that if we keep a clean sheet at the back, we are going to create chances and today our goalkeeper did an amazing job in saving the penalty that kept it 1-0 and it was important the way the team worked – we are doing really well lately and have to continue like this.
You could see the attitude of the boys, how even at 3-0 we wanted to continue going forward. It was good to get a goal and we knew the third goal was going to be crucial. We still expect a difficult game back home at Mestalla but for sure we did a big job today.
Jérémy Mathieu, Valencia defender
The result doesn't reflect the full story of the match – they pushed us hard at the start, where the game changed was the penalty and red card. If they had scored, it changes. There are times when you have ten men and you are more focused and you give that little bit extra – in the end we played better with ten than with 11. Three-nil is almost perfect. We have a team that can fight for the Europa League.
Tero Mäntylä, Ludogorets defender
We created but we didn't finish. Defensively we cannot concede the sort of goals we conceded – two from set pieces and the other goal they scored. I felt they didn't create that much apart from the goals but that was the difference between the teams – they took their chances and conceding three at home is not good enough [for us].
Valencia have experienced players and today was just not our day. I felt we got back into the game at 1-0 and had some great chances even after the penalty. I don't think that was the turning point of the game as we had two or three very good chances and if we'd taken one it would have been a different match. We have to thank the public for coming out to support the team – it was amazing.
Michel, Ludogorets forward
The fans were incredible tonight but we could not give them what they wanted. The first half was good but then you had the penalty and red card. [The absence of the suspended Cosmin Moţi] did not help as we've played most of the time with Moţi and he gives security to the team. Valencia have experience of this tournament, and of playing against teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona, so that was another difference, but we need to keep on believing, although it's hard.
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