MADRID: Managerial new boy Gary Neville watched his Valencia team slide into the Europa League after his Mestalla debut saw Lyon claim a 2-0 Champions League victory.
The former Manchester United defender succeeded Nuno Espirito Santo last week and, after being absent for Saturday’s Primera Division draw with Barcelona, took control of Los Che for the first time on Wednesday night.
But goals in either half from Gnarly Cornet and Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon – already condemned to last place in Group H – meant Valencia could only finish third, with Belgian outfit Gent instead joining Zenit St Petersburg in progressing to the last 16.
Gent’s 2-1 triumph over Zenit at Ghelamco Arena meant Belgium were celebrating a first club through to the knockout stages of the competition in 15 years.
Laurent Depoitre (18) headed the hosts into a first-half lead, only for Artem Dzyuba to equalise as the Russian team chased a sixth straight European victory.
The Gunners needed to better Olympiacos’ shock 3-2 win at the Emirates Stadium on matchday two to avoid dropping into the Europa League for the first time.
After weathering some early pressure from the Greek Super League leaders, Arsenal swept into the lead on 29 minutes when Giroud headed Aaron Ramsey’s cross in at the near post.
Giroud (49) shrugged off an ankle problem to score again early in the second half following good work from Joel Campbell, before he completed his treble from the spot (67) after handball by Olympiacos defender Omar Elabdellaoui.
Arsenal went through as runners-up to Bayern Munich, who won 2-0 away toDinamo Zagreb with a brace from Robert Lewandowski (61 and 64). Thomas Muller hit the woodwork with a late penalty.
Chelsea made it three English teams into the knockout stages after beatingPorto 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues – with manager Jose Mourinho’s position under scrutiny following a poor Barclays Premier League campaign so far – went ahead on 12 minutes when Porto defender Ivan Marcano deflected a rebound from Diego Costa’s shot past Iker Casillas and into the net.
Brazilian midfielder Willian (52) gave Chelsea a 2-0 advantage when he scored from Eden Hazard’s pass, as the Stamford Bridge club progressed as Group G winners.
Dynamo Kiev will join them in the last 16 after beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 at home with a 16th-minute goal from Denys Garmash.
Porto head into the Europa League.
In Group E, Bayer Leverkusen could not find a winner against Barcelona as a 1-1 draw saw the German side fail to qualify.
Leverkusen, who had not won in Europe since matchday one, could have made it through if they bettered Roma’s result against BATE Borisov.
However, although the Italian side were held to a goalless draw, the Bundesliga outfit could not conjure up a winner, despite having plenty of chances in the second half.
Barcelona, who were already through as group winners, went ahead on 20 minutes through Lionel Messi, only for the in-form Javier Hernandez (23) to equalise.