Valencia ease past neighbours Villarreal to reach Europa League semi-finals
Valencia booked their place in the Europa League semi finals as a 2-0 win over neighbours Villarreal secured a 5-1 aggregate victory.
Toni Lato’s first senior goal for Valencia built on hosts’ commanding position after the 3-1 win in the first leg, before Dani Parejo doubled the lead at the start of the second half to put the tie beyond Villarreal.
The two sides are only separated by 60 kilometres in eastern Spain, but Valencia sit nine places above their opponents in the league, having lost just once in their last 20 matches in all competitions.
Valencia made the brighter start, piling the pressure on Villarreal and looking to put the tie beyond the reach of the Yellow Submarine in the opening 10 minutes.
Lato fired Valencia in front on the night with his first goal for the club’s first team, a composed finish past Andres Fernandez.
The home side were rarely troubled in the first half, but were unable to extend their lead further before the break.
Villarreal had a chance at the start of the second half after Alfonso Pedraza drove forward into the penalty area before the striking the ball towards goal, but his strong effort was straight at goalkeeper Neto.
Valencia doubled their lead with a fortunate deflection from a free-kick. Parejo’s low strike flicked up off former Everton defender Ramiro Funes-Mori before looping into the net past Fernandez.
The Yellow Submarine had a few chances around the hour mark, with substitute Samuel Chukwueze firing over the bar and Gerard Moreno’s headed effort lacking power.
The visitors enjoyed long periods of possession as the game moved into its final stages but were unable to create any clear chances and struggled to break down the Valencia defence.
In the final minutes, Francis Coquelin gave away a free kick and picked up a yellow card, ruling himself out of a trip to the Emirates to face his former club Arsenal in the semi-final.