Valencia appoints Ernesto Valverde as coach

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VALENCIA, Spain (AP) -- Valencia has appointed Ernesto Valverde as coach for the rest of the season, after firing Mauricio Pellegrino on Saturday.

Valverde's first task will be to oversee the Champions League match against Lille on Wednesday.

He has been tipped to return to Athletic Bilbao next season, and his commitment to Valencia to only the end of this season still allows for that possibility.

He began coaching at Athletic in 2003 and helped them qualify for the UEFA Cup and reach the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.

Valverde has also coached Espanyol, Villarreal and Olympiakos.

Valencia lost 5-2 at home to Real Sociedad on Saturday, and also 4-0 to Malaga the week before, and has not won in seven away games in the Spanish league.