Zenit v Valencia: Feghouli demands response with knockout stages in sight


Sofiane Feghouli has demanded a response to a turgid draw against Las Palmas on Saturday when Valencia attempt to dent Zenit's perfect record and qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.

Valencia can secure their passage into the round of 16 with a win at the Petrovsky Stadium if Gent fail to beat Lyon in the other Group H encounter on Tuesday.

However, Nuno Espirito Santo's side head to Russia on the back of a poor showing in a 1-1 Liga draw against Las Palmas at Estadio Mestella.

It was a far cry from the performance that saw Valencia batter Celta Vigo 5-1 before the international break, and a tense home crowd voiced their displeasure at a team that has failed to match the lofty standards that saw them finish fourth in La Liga last term.

Midfielder Feghouli accepts the criticism from the supporters, but is sure Valencia have what it takes to bounce back.

"It was a bad game. Las Palmas had a lot of possession and we didn't know how to recover the ball," he told the club's official website.

"This draw feels like a defeat and we understand the anger everyone has. But we have another game on Tuesday and we must move on.

"We'll face it with a lot of ambition and I am sure we will react."

In contrast to Valencia's worries, Russian champions Zenit head into the contest on the back of a convincing 3-0 win over Ural.

Zenit have stuttered in the defence of the Russian Premier League, but their win leaves them seven points off leaders CSKA Moscow with just over half the season gone.

Head coach Andre Villas-Boas - who was an assistant at Porto when Valencia boss Nuno was a back-up goalkeeper in his playing days - has overseen Zenit's best start to a Champions League campaign.

A 2-0 win at Lyon last time out confirmed their passage to the knockout stages, and Zenit are the only team with a 100 per cent record in this season's group stages.

Zenit - who won the reverse fixture 3-2 - know that a point will be enough to confirm top spot in the group, but defender Igor Smolnikov is not interested in playing for the draw.

"We always go out onto the pitch and play only for victory," he told Zenit's official site. "In the match against Valencia we will play to win."

Zenit are without suspended duo Aleksandr Anyukov and Javi Garcia, while Viktor Fayzulin (knee) is also absent.

For Valencia, Alvaro Negredo (appendicitis), Diego Alves and Rodrigo (both knee) are unavailable.