herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Pulis proud despite Potters' Europa exit

STOKE may be out of Europe but their players and fans have ensured they will not be forgotten, according to manager Tony Pulis.

The Europa League is a much-maligned competition but Stoke embraced it, winning seven of their 12 matches and coming through a tough group containing Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev before finally falling to European heavyweights Valencia in the last 32.

Defeat at home in the first leg left the Potters with a mountain to climb last night, and they might have managed it had Kenwyne Jones taken one of two glorious opportunities, but he fluffed his lines and Jonas' 24th-minute goal earned Los Che a 1-0 win on the night and 2-0 on aggregate.

Praised

Pulis praised the club's fans for turning up in such large numbers to roar the side on at the Mestalla.

He said: "They were fantastic and they will remember this. We estimated nearly 7,000 all around the ground and they were brilliant."

Valencia boss Unai Emery, whose side face PSV Eindhoven in the last 16, also praised the massed ranks of visiting fans, saying: "I was very surprised at all the fans who came over and were 100pc behind their team. That's something to admire."

Stoke still have a chance to qualify for the competition again through the FA Cup, where they will face Liverpool in the quarter-finals next month, but for now Pulis must turn his attentions to ending a worrying run of four straight Premier League defeats when Swansea visit the Britannia on Sunday.

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