Nilmar brace secures Villarreal win

Bundesliga high-flyers Leverkusen, unbeaten in 10 Europa League

games this season, took the lead through a fine strike from Michal

Kadlec but Villarreal drew level before the break through Giuseppe

Rossi. The Yellow Submarine then got themselves in front thanks to

Nilmar, who netted just a minute after coming on in the 69th minute

for Rossi, but that lead was short-lived before the hosts equalised

through Gonzalo Castro. That looked to be the way the game would

finish, but Nilmar had other ideas and he broke through four

minutes into stoppage time to prod in what could prove to be a

crucial strike ahead of next week’s second leg at El Madrigal.

Leverkusen, who had won seven of their last nine competitive games

coming into the match, started well. Renato Augusto brought a

fingertip save out of Diego Lopez from a curling free-kick before

the home side took the lead in the 33rd minute. Rossi’s attempted

counter-attack from a Leverkusen corner was halted on the halfway

line and the ball fell to Kadlec, who progressed unchallenged

towards the edge of the Villarreal area before thumping a 25-yard

shot across Lopez and into the far corner. That was not enough to

give Leverkusen the lead at the interval though, with Rossi drawing

Villarreal level in the 42nd minute. Carlos Marchena’s through-ball

put Rossi in the clear and the Italy international clinically

finished past Rene Adler. The second half was a similarly

closely-fought affair to the first period, and it needed the

introduction of Nilmar to help Villarreal gain the upper hand. The

Brazil ace had barely stepped foot on the pitch when he got

possession on the edge of the Leverkusen box, turned well and then,

after getting a bit of luck after the ball rebounded back to him

off a home defender, fired a low shot past Adler. That was a blow

for Leverkusen, but Jupp Heynckes promptly went down the other end

and equalised just a few minutes later. A cross to the far post

arrived at the feet of Castro, who shaped to shoot then quickly cut

inside Mario before drilling a low right-footed shot inside the

near post. Leverkusen continued to push for a third goal to try to

gain an advantage to take to Spain, but it would end up being

Villarreal who got the next – and final – breakthrough. Santi

Cazorla’s diagonal ball over the top was brought down well by

Nilmar, who showed good speed to hold off the challenge of Daniel

Schwaab before poking the ball through Adler’s legs for a dramatic

late winner.