By James Kilpatrick
Celtic 0-2 Valencia: Denis Cheryshev, Ruben Sobrino hand La Liga side the initiative
Report as Celtic's Europa League campaign on the ropes
Last Updated: 15/02/19 6:26am
Goals from Denis Cheryshev and Ruben Sobrino saw Valencia comfortably beat Celtic 2-0 in the Europa League last-32 first leg at Celtic Park.
Russia international Cheryshev gave the visitors the lead with a simple tap-in three minutes from half-time, before Sobrino doubled their advantage shortly after the break with a close-range half-volley (49).
Celtic improved as the game progressed as substitutes Odsonne Edouard and Timothy Weah asked questions of the Valencia defence, but the visitors were rarely threatened and held on to their two-goal lead ahead of the second leg at the Mestalla on February 21.
Celtic: Bain (6), Toljan (6), Boyata (4), Simunovic (6), Izaguirre (5), Brown (4), McGregor (5), Christie (5), Forrest (5), Sinclair (6), Burke (5)
Subs: Edouard (7), Weah (6)
Valencia: Neto (7), Piccini (6), Garay (5), Diakhaby (6), Lato (6), Soler (6), Parejo (7), Kondogbia (6), Wass (8), Cheryshev (8), Sobrino (9)
Subs: Coquelin (6), Guedes (6), Gameiro (N/A)
Man of the match: Ruben Sobrino
Celtic started brightly with Callum McGregor getting an early driven shot on target in the fifth minute, but goalkeeper Neto awkwardly parried the bouncing shot away.
Valencia responded quickly and began to find joy down the flanks. In the 18th minute, Scott Bain made a fine diving save to parry away Daniel Wass' looping header past his left post.
A few moments later and Scott Brown's hesitant pass back to Bain was almost intercepted by Cheryshev, but the 27-year-old goalkeeper's sliding clearance ensured no damage was done.
Emilio Izaguirre came into the starting XI for Jonny Hayes - who dropped to the bench.
For Valencia, Diakhaby, Lato, Cheryshev and Sobrino replaced Roncaglia, Gaya, Gameiro and Mina.
Valencia continued to push forward, as lone striker Oliver Burke became increasingly isolated, and the visitors took the lead in the 42nd minute. Midfielder Dani Parejo picked out Sobrino, who lost his marker Dedryck Boyata, before he unselfishly squared to Cheryshev for a simple tap-in.
Marcelino's side ruthlessly came out of the traps in the second half and went 2-0 ahead in the 49th minute. Denmark international Wass slipped Cheryshev down the left flank, before his accurate cross was slotted away by Sobrino for his first Valencia goal on debut.
Brendan Rodgers' decision to introduce Weah and Edouard just before the hour-mark gave Celtic a greater attacking threat. Weah got a shot away in the 61st minute which he hit over the bar moments after a positive run from Edouard down the left.
Celtic continued to push forward in their attempt to pull a goal back and there was slight controversy in the 89th minute when Weah was shoved in the back by left-back Toni Lato, but Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan did not feel the shove merited a penalty.
- Celtic suffered their first home defeat in the UEFA Cup/Europa League Round of 32 since November 1992 (1-2 v Borussia Dortmund), ending a run of seven home games without defeat at this stage.
- Valencia manager Marcelino has only lost one of his last nine knockout stage games in the Europa League (W6 D2), with that lone defeat coming in the semi-final second leg in 2015-16 while in charge of Villarreal (0-3 v Liverpool).
- Celtic have lost three of their five meetings with Valencia in European competition (W1 D1), with this their first defeat against them on home soil.
- Brendan Rodgers suffered his first home defeat in the knockout stages of the Europa League - the Celtic manager had won each of his previous three such games (two with Liverpool and one with Celtic).
- Valencia's Denis Cheryshev scored his first ever away goal in European competition - his previous three goals had all come in home games at former club Villarreal.
- Ruben Sobrino is the first Valencia player to score on his European competition debut for the club since September 2015, when Andre Gomes and Joao Cancelo both scored against Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League.
Man of the Match - Ruben Sobrino
The former Real Madrid striker had a Valencia debut to remember as he scored a goal and registered an assist.
He showed intelligence to slip away unmarked as he set up Cheryshev's goal, and was in the right place at the right time to convert the Russia international's threatening cross to help Valencia breeze past the Scottish champions.
Celtic take on Kilmarnock - live on Sky Sports Football - on Sunday afternoon. Valencia, meanwhile, host Espanyol in La Liga on the same day.