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Alcácer helps Valencia seal smooth passage

Valencia CF 1-0 PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (agg: 4-0)
A second-half header from Paco Alcácer ensured the Spanish side took their place in the last eight with minimum fuss.

Paco Alcácer enjoys his goal
Paco Alcácer enjoys his goal ©AFP/Getty Images

Valencia CF will feature in Friday's UEFA Europa League quarter-final draw after a 1-0 second-leg defeat of PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.

Having accounted for the likes of PSV Eindhoven and SS Lazio en route to the round of 16, the Bulgarian title holders were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Valencia last week. This time they put up more of a fight before succumbing to Paco Alcácer's second-half header.

Despite his side's commanding first-leg advantage, coach Juan Antonio Pizzi fielded a strong lineup against a team who had won all four of their away fixtures in this season's competition. Forward Virgil Misidjan signalled the visitors' early intent with a free-kick that was deflected over before Júnior Caiçara fired harmlessly wide having created space on the edge of the area.

Hristo Zlatinski's effort from distance, meanwhile, was well fielded by goalkeeper Diego Alves. Valencia responded as the half progressed and almost took the lead when Daniel Parejo's set piece came back off the underside of the crossbar.

Seeking to extend their eight-game unbeaten run in Europe, the hosts upped the tempo after the restart. After powering a shot off target, Alcácer made amends soon after, beating Cosmin Moţi to Fede Cartabia's centre from the left and nodding in his fourth goal in eight tournament appearances.

Undeterred, Ludogorets – the first Bulgarian club to reach the UEFA Europa League knockout stages – pressed for an equaliser, only to be denied by Alves, who expertly parried Roman Bezjak's close-range strike. At the other end, Vladislav Stoyanov did well to deny Javier Fuego, while Antonio Barragán had an attempt deflected wide. Those misses mattered little, however, as Valencia advanced to the quarter-finals at a canter.

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