St Etienne should take a lot of positives out of finishing top of their pool heading into the tournament's knockout stages, says the coach Alain Perrin.
Perrin is proud of top spot
St Etienne should take a lot of positives out of finishing top of their pool heading into the tournament's knockout stages, says the coach Alain Perrin. Les Verts sealed first place in Group G with a 2-2 draw at home to the Spanish side Valencia, and that should ensure they get an easier tie in today's draw. With both sides already qualified for the last 32 it was top spot which was up for grabs in the encounter at a snow- covered Stade Geoffrey-Guichard in France.
They may be struggling in Ligue 1 this season, but their European displays have been another matter, the team ending up unbeaten in their four pool matches. "From a prestige point of view, we will retain this positive aspect of finishing first in the group," said Perrin. "It is a great performance taking into account we were in the fifth pot in the draw." The Valencia coach Unai Emery was left with mixed emotions after seeing his side fail to overhaul St Etienne.
Although the Spanish side twice managed to fight back from deficits in an entertaining clash, they had to settle for second place. "The objective was to finish first and we have not achieved it. It was a very open and hard-fought game which both teams went out to win," said Emery. "We are going away with a bitter-sweet taste for not having been first, but I'm happy with the attitude and effort of the team. We are 50 per cent disappointed for having only got second place but also 50 per cent happy for having given everything against an opponent who were in front of their fans."
Valencia's options for the next round are now Zenit St Petersburg, Bordeaux, Marseille, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kiev, Aalborg, Fiorentina and Werder Bremen. * PA Sport