VILLARREAL: Valencia scored twice in stoppage time to secure a 3-1 victory away to local rivals Villarreal and take the upper hand after the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday.
The result was harsh on the home side, who largely dominated possession yet were unable to create clear-cut chances against Valencia, who sit 12 places and 16 points above them in La Liga.
They were made to pay as a quick-fire double at the death from Daniel Wass and Goncalo Guedes, his second goal of the match, left them with a mountain to climb in next week’s return.
“We knew it was going to be tough and we did what we had to do,” Guedes told BeIn Sports. “We know they have their strengths but we defended well and played on the counter and we were able to get our goals that way.”
“I don’t think the result was undeserved. We had our chances, we were clinical and it is a deserved victory.”
Portugal forward Guedes opened the scoring after six minutes. He was felled in the box by Santiago Caseres and, although Valencia skipper Dani Parejo’s penalty was saved by Andres Fernandes, Guedes netted the rebound from close range.
It was the second consecutive game in which Parejo had missed a spot-kick after he failed to score against Rayo Vallecano in la Liga at the weekend.
After ceding the early advantage, Villarreal began to enjoy more of the ball, with Santi Cazorla causing problems for the Valencia backline.
Former Arsenal midfielder Cazorla, who himself missed a penalty at the weekend, equalised from the spot in the 36th minute after Ezequiel Garay clumsily brought down Vicente Iborra and English referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot.
Samuel Chukwueze was twice denied by Valencia goalkeeper Neto after the break as Javi Calleja’s side looked to force a winner, but Villarreal gradually ran out of ideas and appeared happy to settle for the draw.
Yet with the clock having reached 90 minutes, Valencia’s Wass produced a sweeping left-foot finish against the run of play following Jose Gaya’s storming run down the left-hand side to stun the home crowd.
Guedes then rounded off the scoring with the last kick of the game after Denis Cheryshev – a former Villarreal player – led an electric counter-attack as Marcelino’s side put one foot in the last four.
“We weren’t savvy at all,” said Calleja in his post-match news conference. “There’s another game to play (after going 2-1 down), but we played like there wasn’t one.
“Now, everything is more difficult. It’s a tough result to take but if you gift up chances and don’t take yours then Valencia are always going to do what they did.
“We won’t give up, of course. We’ll go to Mestalla next week wanting to win and restore pride,” he added.