End of the European dream. Villarreal are knocked out in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League after losing to Valencia in tonight’s return leg at Mestalla (2-0). The Submarine needed to score three goals to get through after losing 1-3 in the first leg, but the Yellows could not manage it. The match was played under torrential rain at Mestalla for the entire duration of the encounter.
Javi Calleja made plenty of changes to the starting eleven, giving Villarreal B team player Andrei Ratiu his first-team debut and putting Manu Trigueros and Jaume Costa in the side, after they have both made a comeback from their respective injuries.
The first goal of the game came early on. Guedes fought with Andrei, won the ball and crossed it into the box for Lato to knock past Andrés Fernández with a first-time shot (1-0, m. 12). The referee did not believe the battle for the ball was a foul despite the fact that Andrei ended up on the floor.
Villarreal got better as the game went on. Trigueros had a great chance to score with a shot from the top of the box and Gerard Moreno went close with a header from a corner kick. Neither chance ended up in the back of the net though, rather, in the gloves of Valencia keeper, Neto.
Valencia were lucky to extend their lead in the second half. Dani Parejo’s free-kick from the edge of the area hit the wall and was deflected into the far side of Andrés Fernández’s net (2-0, m. 53).
The Yellow Submarine kept going until the end, but they could not make the comeback. On a positive note, Javi Fuego also came on after coming back from an injury as well.
Villarreal’s next match is this Sunday against CD Leganés at the Estadio de la Cerámica (6:30pm CEST). A real “final” in the fight to stay in Spain’s top flight. We’ve got to keep fighting until the end.
Valencia CF: Neto; Wass, Roncaglia, Diakhaby, Lato; Ferran Torres, Carlos Soler (Gabriel Paulista, m. 46), Parejo (Coquelin, m. 61), Guedes (Kang In Lee, m. 67); Santi Mina and Gameiro.
Villarreal CF: Andrés; Andrei, Funes Mori, Víctor Ruiz, Jaume Costa; Morlanes, Cáseres (Fornals, m. 64), Trigueros (Javi Fuego, m. 73); Raba (Chukwueze, m. 46), Gerard and Pedraza.
Goals: 1-0. Min. 12: Lato. 2-0. Min. 53: Parejo.
Referee: William Collum. Booked: Coquelin for Valencia; Raba, Pedraza, Funes Mori and Andrei for Villarreal.
Information: Second leg of the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League played at Mestalla in front of 26,403 spectators.