"An English goal" was how Valencia CF defender Jérémy Mathieu hailed Mehmet Topal's superb long-range winner which even Stoke City FC's Matthew Etherington had to applaud.
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Valencia CF defender Jérémy Mathieu hailed the "English goal" that Mehmet Topal scored to give them a hard-earned UEFA Europa League round of 32 advantage at Stoke City FC. In a first-leg match of few chances, Topal sent the ball flying into Asmir Begovic's net from 30 metres. "A great goal" was the verdict even of Stoke's disappointed winger Matthew Etherington.
Jérémy Mathieu, Valencia defender
There wasn't a big difference between the sides, it was a tough match with a lot of aerial challenges. We struggled to impose our game because Stoke pressed a lot and stopped us playing our game at times. The key thing is we got an away goal – it was an English goal, to put it simply. Topal scored from far out and it helped us relax. But there's still another game to play and it's not finished.
Ángel Dealbert, Valencia defender
It was a difficult game against a good team, a very physical team. We played a good game and deserved to win in the end. It was very important to score first, there weren't too many chances and whoever scored first was going to be the likely winner. It was us and we held out after that. Mehmet Topal scored a great goal, he hit it really well.
Matthew Etherington, Stoke midfielder
They scored a great goal at a time when the game was pretty even. We started off well but their goal was a very good goal. They are a great team, we're not going to say otherwise, but I thought we matched them for large parts of the game and we've got to take credit for that and take heart from it. They defended really well but in the first 20 minutes and the majority of the second half I thought we were pressing and they weren't really causing as many problems.
Dean Whitehead, Stoke midfielder
In the first half they put us under a bit of pressure. We got among them in the second and caused them a few problems but we're just not getting the breaks at the moment. They're resilient, they defended well at times and are a strong side. We will go [to the Mestalla] will plenty of confidence – we'll be underdogs but we don't mind that