Sevilla fight past Villarreal to reach Europa League quarterfinals

March 19, 2015

Sevilla remain on course to retain their Europa League title after easing past Spanish rivals Villarreal to reach the quarterfinals.

Having done most of the damage with a 3-1 first leg win at El Madrigal, Sevilla finished things off at home with a 2-1 victory courtesy of second-half goals from Vicente Iborra and his replacement Denis Suarez.

Villarreal had netted in-between those strikes through Giovani dos Santos' fine free-kick but almost immediately had centre-back Eric Bailly sent off as they tumbled out 5-2 on aggregate.

Sevilla scored the fastest goal in Europa League history in the first leg when Vitolo netted after just 13.21 seconds but it was Villarreal, with little to lose, who made the early running at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Manuel Trigueros and Mario Gaspar both tested home keeper Sergio Rico in the opening 10 minutes, with the second effort producing a decent save at the expense of a corner.

The visitors continued to push forward but they could find no way through before the break, while Sevilla were unable to make the most of any of their openings at the other end either.

Both teams missed further opportunities in the second half, Gaspar shooting straight at Rico while Stephane Mbia headed a decent opening wide for Sevilla before claiming his shirt had been pulled.

Still needing to score three times to stay in the competition, Villarreal increasingly pushed more men forward and inevitably that left gaps at the back.

Sevilla spurned a three-on-one breakaway but were not so profligate in the 69th minute when Carlos Bacca charged clear before unselfishly rolling the ball across for Iborra to stroke into an empty net.

Villarreal, to their credit, refused to give in and pulled a goal back six minutes later with Giovani's curling free-kick from the edge of the box, but their mini-fightback ended soon after when Bailly was sent off 13 minutes from time.

The Ivory Coast international was shown a second yellow card for his challenge from behind on Iborra inside the centre-circle, although Bailly was far from impressed by referee Martin Atkinson's decision.

Sevilla, looking to win the competition for a fourth time in 10 years, ensured they made their man advantage count as they netted the winning goal in the 82nd minute when the unmarked Suarez headed home Benoit Tremoulinas' cross just moments after replacing Iborra.