Gent 1-0 Valencia
A Sven Kums penalty proved enough for the Belgian debutants to earn their first victory in the competition and re-enter the race for second in Group H.
Article top media content
- Danijel Milicevic heads against post and Brecht Dejaegere over bar in first half
- Belgian champions take deserved 49th-minute lead with Sven Kums penalty
- Newcomers Gent live dangerously late on but survive to make history
- Second at kick-off, Valencia now just two points clear of Gent in third
- Next games: Lyon v Gent, Zenit v Valencia (24 November)
Gent claimed a famous first victory in the UEFA Champions League to move to within two points of second-placed Valencia in Group H.
In a section dominated by a Zenit side who qualified tonight, Hein Vanhaezebrouck's spirited competition debutants made their mark thanks to Sven Kums's cool-headed penalty four minutes into the second half.
From the first-half evidence it was hard to fathom how Gent – unbeaten leaders of Belgium's First League – had managed only one point from their opening three Group H skirmishes, including a recent 2-1 Mestalla defeat. The early chances at the KAA Gent Stadium fell to Laurent Depoitre and Kenneth Saief, while visiting keeper Jaume Doménech produced a wonderful save from Kums although the referee's whistle had already blown.
Danijel Milicevic conjured a remarkable header from Saief's cross which found the inside of the post before being hacked off the line. Skipper Kums blazed a shot centimetres wide, Brecht Dejaegere somehow directed his free header down and up over the bar, yet the hosts sighed with relief themselves when Lasse Nielsen made a goal-saving clearance from Antonio Barragán's cross.
The first-time Belgian champions got their reward shortly after half-time when Barragán was penalised for blocking Saief's cross with a high arm, enabling Kums to slot home from the spot. Until the goal Nuno Espírito Santo's men had struggled to cope under the incessant pressure, but now Gent keeper Matz Sels was having to make his first save at the feet of Paco Alcácer.
Danijel Milicevic's cross and a Kums through ball for Depoitre might have yielded a second goal, but as Gent tired so openings emerged for the Spaniards. Kums's last-ditch tackle denied Pablo Piatti, Renato Neto threw his body into a Daniel Parejo piledriver, then Selz kept out Alcácer. But despite the sea change, there was no way through.
Key player: Sven Kums
A multi-tasking midfielder who kept his team ticking along nicely, Gent's unflustered No14 put too much power on his 49th-minute penalty for Doménech and duly netted Gent a first-ever UEFA Champions League scalp. It was no more than the uncapped 27-year-old, and his team for that matter, merited.
Hein Vanhaezebrouck, Gent coach
This is not a fluke result. When you look back at this match you'll find it was the logical result – if anything, the scoreline should have been greater. In the first half we were a bit unlucky, we missed some chances, but we thought 'no problem'.
We are used to keeping on pushing until the ball goes in. We managed it very quickly in the second half. We were close to a second but when that did not happen we played a bit more organised. It was a well-deserved victory.
Nuno Espírito Santo, Valencia coach
I said beforehand that Gent aren't a surprise for us, they are a good team, and we know that again after playing them. Of course, what we showed tonight is not the image we want to give of our club. It was a bad game for us – in the first half we couldn't match Gent's determination. We have to analyse the game and understand why this happened. It was a really bad performance. We do not want to represent our club this way.