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Villas Boas preaches calm

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 29 Apr 2011

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Porto boss Andre Villas Boas has urged his side to remain grounded despite a 5-1 Europa League semi-final first-leg drubbing of Villarreal.

The precocious 33-year-old praised the efforts of his men in front of their home fans at the Estadio do Dragao for their win on Thursday.

The victory included a four-goal haul for prolific striker Falcao, making it 15 goals from 12 games in the competition this season.

“It was a good first step towards the final,” Villas Boas said. “(Porto) scoring 15 goals in (the last three Europa League) games is down to the talent of the players.”

“Falcao is fabulous, just like others in the team. But even though he’s a fantastic goal-scorer, I have to underline the performances of all the group.”

The Portuguese champions – despite being a goal down at the interval after Yellow Submarines midfielder Cani scored – managed to put five past Diego Lopez in the Villarreal goal in the second half to head into next Thursday’s return leg in a commanding position.

Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin, who set up Falcao’s equaliser and then scored the goal that edged Porto in the lead in the 61st minute, also credited his side’s joint effort.

“The way we turned the tie around after going behind was great. It was down to the efforts of the whole team,” he said.

Four-goal hero Falcao had a memorable evening, having never notched such a total previously in a competitive senior match.

“I will never forget these four goals,” the highly prized Colombian striker said. “It’s a dream because I’ve never scored four goals in a game before.”

Villarreal boss Juan Carlos Garrido admitted the heavy defeat was hard to digest, singling out Porto’s equalising goal just after half-time as the key point that swung the game against the visitors’ favour.

“It was a semi-final and we’re playing at the highest level against great teams,” he said. “It’s a big defeat and hard to take.”

And the Spaniard was to rue several spurned chances which proved telling after the end result.

“We’re not happy and have to analyse where we went wrong to emerge strong. We deserved more than one goal, and had three clear chances,” he said.

“The key was when it went 1-1 rather than 2-0 to us. This boosted the belief of Porto and their skills brought our mistakes.”

Brazilian striker Nilmar remained optimistic of his side’s chances of overturning the result in the second leg at El Madrigal next Thursday, but conceded it would take some effort.

“Everything is possible in football, but it’s going to be a hard task,” he said.

“We played great in the first half and then everything changed in the second; it’s difficult to see what went wrong.”

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