Villarreal shine in Europa League

Spanish side show their winning credentials as FC Porto also dominate quarterfinal first leg.

    Villarreal look virtually assured of a semifinal berth after their strong performance [AFP]

    Spanish side Villarreal and Portuguese giants FC Porto dominated proceedings in the Europa League first leg quarterfinals, with both teams recording 5-1 wins on Thursday.

    Brazil striker Nilmar scored twice as Villarreal punished a lacklustre FC Twente at Madrigal Stadium and 2004 Champions League winners Porto impressed with a 5-1 crushing of Spartak Moscow.

    Three Portuguese sides - Porto, Benfica and Sporting Braga - are among the last eight of Europe's second tier club competition, boosting the chances of an all-Portuguese final at the Dublin Arena on May 18.

    Another Dutch side, PSV Eindhoven, were on the wrong side of a 4-1 defeat in Lisbon against Benfica while Sporting Braga did well to come away with a 1-1 draw during their visit to Dynamo Kiev.

    All three Portuguese sides are now perfectly placed to qualify for the last four following the second leg of the quarter-finals on April 14.

    Spanish shine

    Villarreal's superb victory was marred by a leg injury to Villarreal defender Gonzalo Rodriguez, who was taken to hospital in an ambulance with a suspected broken fibula, television reports said.

    "We have to dedicate this game to Gonzalo,'' Nilmar said.

    "It's an important step, we played very well and we did exactly what we worked on.''

    Villarreal opened the scoring against the Dutch league leaders in the 22nd minute when defender Carlos Marchena headed in a corner kick at the far post.

    Twente striker Luuk de Jong left the field limping with an ankle injury and had to be substituted by Marc Janko in the 33rd.

    Nilmar then delicately lobbed the ball over stranded goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov only to hit the right post in the 34th.

    Borja Valero stretched Villarreal's lead when he struck a low shot which Mihaylov just made contact with but could not deflect away from goal in the 43rd.


    Thursday April 7

     Benfica 4-1 PSV Eindhoven
     Dynamo Kiev 1-1 Braga
     Porto 5-1 Spartak Moscow
     Villarreal 5-1 FC Twente

    Nilmar headed a stray ball down powerfully in the penalty area, beating Mihaylov for Villarreal's third goal in the 45th.

    Giuseppe Rossi hit a long shot hard from outside the penalty area over two Twente defenders and to the right of Mihaylov into the back of the net in the 55th.

    Two yellow cards featured in the next 15 minutes, for separates incidents by Roberto Rosales and Janko, whose tackle from behind on Villarreal defender Rodriguez forced him to be stretchered off.

    Nilmar struck a powerful shot straight past Mihaylov in the 80th for Villarreal's fifth goal.

    Janko pulled one back for Twente with a header in injury time, causing a hush to fall on the 23,000-strong crowd.

    The return leg is next Thursday in the Netherlands.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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