Five-star Villarreal have virtually booked their Europa League semi-final berth after a 5-1 first-leg hammering of FC Twente on Thursday.
The La Liga outfit took a first-half lead thanks to strikes from Carlos Marchena, Borja Valero and Nilmar before the latter earned a brace later in the second period.
Giuseppe Rossi also got on the scoresheet as did Marc Janko, who struck a late consolation for the Dutch club in injury time.
But the night belonged to Juan Garrido’s men, who after a slow start, put themselves in front in the 23rd minute.
Valero’s corner was nodded on by Jesus Catala and Marchena applied the finishing touches before the impressive Valero made the most of a terrific ball from Santiago Cazorla before he coolly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Nicolai Mihaylov.
A dreadful mistake from Twente’s Peter Wisgerhof allowed Nilmar to add a third on the stroke of half-time and the demolition job was almost wrapped up when Rossi was given too much time and space on the ball and delivered a delightful finish.
Nilmar added the fifth when his first touch gave him time before he smashed the ball past Mihaylov and although Marc Janko found the back of the net with a late header, it was merely a consolation and the Spaniards will likely move to the final four, save for a capitulation in the second leg.
A hat-trick from Falcao helped Porto also record a 5-1 victory, against Spartak Moscow at home.
After a cagey opening, the Columbian bagged the only goal of the first half after 38 minutes.
Goals within five second-half minutes from Silvestre Varela and Maicon wrapped up the result on the night, and although Kirill Kombarov claimed one back for the visitors after 71 minutes, Falcao still had time to stamp his mark on the contest.
He grabbed his second goal with six minutes remaining and then added polish to the scoreline with his third goal, which was his 11th in the Europa League this campaign, to top the tournament’s goal scoring table.
In other matches, an Eduardo Salvio brace helped Benfica to a 4-1 home win over PSV Eindhoven while Sporting Braga claimed a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine.
Pablo Aimar scored after 37 minutes before Salvio found the back of the net in first-half stoppage time.
He added a second seven minutes after the break and although Zakaria Labyad pulled an away goal back for PSV, Javier Saviola’s goal in the third minute of extra time gave the Liga Sagres side a three-goal buffer heading into the second leg.
In Ukraine, Oleg Gusev’s own goal could prove crucial for Braga as they will head to Portugal with the knowledge a goalless draw will see them progress.
Gusev turned the ball into his own net after 13 minutes – shortly after Dynamo took an early lead through Andriy Yarmolenko – and the hosts could not respond, forced to play half an hour with 10 men after substitute Andriy Shevchenko was given a red card on the hour mark.
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