Desperately late goals from Daniel Wass and Goncalo Guedes helped Valencia to a dramatic 3-1 win at local rivals Villarreal in their Europa League quarter-final first leg, as Los Che put one foot in the last four.
Javi Calleja’s men recovered well after a woeful start and they went on to dominate most of the match, but they ran out of steam in the latter stages and Valencia finished them off ruthlessly with two goals right at the end.
Valencia put themselves ahead early on when Guedes reacted quickest to Dani Parejo’s penalty being saved, but Villarreal soon took control and deservedly levelled with a spot-kick of their own – Santi Cazorla netting.
The visitors struggled to contend with the excellent Cazorla and Villarreal’s dynamism in attack after half-time, but their imagination only went so far and they found themselves picked off, as Wass slammed a fine strike in before Guedes effectively ended the tie on the break in stoppage time.
— Valencia CF English (@valenciacf_en) April 11, 2019
Valencia made a positive start and were rewarded after just six minutes, as Santi Caseres tripped Guedes in the box and the Portugal international converted from close range after Parejo’s penalty was saved by Andres Fernandez.
But Villarreal levelled just past the half-hour mark – Cazorla converting the match’s second penalty in confident fashion after an off-balance Ezequiel Garay tripped Vicente Iborra.
Villarreal continued to pile the pressure on after the break and Samuel Chukwueze twice went close.
His first effort in the 56th minute forced Neto into a smart save down to his left, before the Brazilian then rushed off his line and read Chukwueze’s attempted lob after a ball over the defence.
But Villarreal visibly tired and Valencia capitalised in the 90th minute, as Wass met Jose Gaya’s low cross just inside the area with a controlled half-volley into the top-left corner.
Los Che arguably put the tie to bed in the third minute of stoppage time – Guedes beating Fernandez when one-on-one after collecting an excellent cross from former Villarreal star Denis Cheryshev.
What does it mean? Ruthless Valencia show Villarreal how it’s done
Villarreal certainly cannot say they did not have the chances to win this. They crafted some fine opportunities and were in control for much of the game.
But Valencia managed the match well, sensing their moment in expert fashion after Villarreal had clearly expended most of their energy. Cheryshev’s introduction was vital in that respect, as he stretched the hosts out on the left.
2 – @valenciacf_en have won once 1-3 in an European knockout game away before. It was in the Last 16 in the Cup Winners Cup 1979/80 against Rangers. They progressed. Semifinals? pic.twitter.com/oii00YZRxs
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 11, 2019
Guedes makes his mark
Although he was quiet for a period of the match, you cannot argue that he was not effective. His early attacking brought the first penalty, which led to his first goal, and he did excellently to finish things off – controlling Cheryshev’s cross and having the composure to finish cleverly past Fernandez.
Garay exposed by Villarreal
It was a day to forget for Valencia’s Garay. He was cumbersome and slow against Villarreal’s dynamic forwards, getting beaten by Gerard Moreno in the box late in the first half, just a few minutes after clumsily fouling Iborra for the hosts’ penalty. Luckily for him, Los Che’s attackers did enough to render his errors inconsequential.
Valencia have another local derby against Levante Sunday before next week’s return leg. Villarreal go to Girona, hoping to get themselves out of LaLiga’s bottom three.
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