Villarreal CF centre-back Carlos Marchena put on a brave face and insisted that "while there's life there's hope" after his side's capitulation against FC Porto in the first instalment of their UEFA Europa League semi-final.
It all seemed to be going to plan for the Yellow Submarine when they capped an impressive first-half performance with the opening goal just before the interval. Yet 45 minutes later their dream of a first major title lay in tatters: neither Marchena nor any of his team-mates could stem the tide as four goals from an unstoppable Falcao helped Porto take a huge 5-1 advantage.
"It is a very disappointing result for us," said the 31-year-old Spanish international. "We did very well in the first half and managed to edge ahead just before half-time. But at the start of the second period we lost our balance, lost our shape and were very bad thereafter. The second half was unrecognisable from the first.
"Every time we conceded, we tried to fight back and score immediately but we paid a heavy price for taking risks. Porto ended up with an excellent result to take to Villarreal." Seemingly unassailable even, but Juan Carlos Garrido's side can take solace from their 100% record at El Madrigal in seven European games this season, scoring 20 goals and conceding just three.
Indeed, Villarreal defeated FC Twente 5-1 at home in the quarter-finals and Marchena, a UEFA Cup winner with Valencia CF in 2004, is not ready to throw the towel in just yet. "While there's life there's hope," he said. "
It's going to be a great match at our place and why shouldn't we dream of a comeback? Now we have to keep our heads held high because we have also got the league to think about."
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