Madrid, Apr 12: Late goals from Daniel Wass and Goncalo Guedes gave Valencia a 3-1 win away to local rivals Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday. Wass was on hand to score a vital goal with a curling left foot shot following a counter-attack to make Valencia clear favorites to book a place in the semi-finals of the tournament in the 91st minute of the game.
That would have been a great result for Valencia, but Guedes then appeared to score his second goal of the night two minutes later after another textbook attack from the visitors ended with Denis Cheryshev's curling pass from the left wing. Thursday's game was a repeat of the semifinal of the 2004 UEFA Cup, which saw Valencia progress on their way to triumph in the competition and Guedes didn't need much time to convince Valencia fans that a repeat of history could be on the cards. The winger won a fourth minute penalty after drawing a foul just inside the Villarreal penalty area and although Andres Fernandez did well to save Dani Parejo's penalty (the second penalty Parejo has seen saved in five days), Guedes was in the right place to be first to the rebound and put the ball home.
Villarreal woke up after falling behind and began to take the game to Valencia, who are a team happy to soak up pressure and play on the break. Santiago Cazorla saw a free kick go just wide, while Samuel Chukwueze caused the visitors problems with his pace, but in the end it was Vicente Iborra who was decisive as he provoked a foul in the Valencia area and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot for the second time in the evening.
Cazorla had also seen a penalty saved last weekend, but he made no mistake to beat Neto and make it 1-1. Chukwueze was the main thorn in the Valencia side although he left his attempted chip over Neto short, moments after Cazorla fired over after good work from the Nigerian. The Valencia keeper then kept calm after a pass from Francis Coquelin (who replaced youngster Ferran Torres) had left him under pressure in his own area.Villarreal were doing all of the pressing in the second half, with Ezequiel Garay doing well to deny Gerard Moreno.
The visitors looked to be suffering more as the game continued but Cheryshev's entry for Kevin Gameiro gave them more depth in the closing minutes and Fernandez was called to make a good save from Piccini, before also denying the Russian. The game looked to be heading for a draw but that was before first Wass and then Guedes were on hand to tilt things decisively Valencia's way. (XINHUA)