Cazorla keeps Villarreal's home fires burning

With the second leg at their El Madrigal fortress to come, winger Santi Cazorla urged Villarreal CF to "keep the dream of going through to the final alive" when they meet FC Porto on Thursday.

Santi Cazorla (Villarreal CF)
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Santi Cazorla urged Villarreal CF to retain focus and take every chance they get at FC Porto in the first instalment of their UEFA Europa League semi-final, always keeping in mind next Thursday's return at their El Madrigal fortress.

"We are braced for a very difficult match but we believe in ourselves and keeping the dream of going through to the final is very much alive," said the Spain winger. "We have to take our opportunities, try to sneak a goal every time we get in the final third. I think it will be a very open tie and it is vitally important that we get the best possible result, as we will be even better at home."

Indeed, the Yellow Submarine have a 100% record at El Madrigal in seven European games this season, scoring 20 goals and conceding just three, two of which were consolation efforts in big aggregate victories. Cazorla has been ever-present throughout, and is keen to get a head start in Portugal on Thursday. "We have been playing well away from home in this competition," said the 26-year-old. "That's helping fuel the belief that we can go through."

Key will be stopping in-form striker Falcao, scorer of eight goals in Porto's last five outings and a competition-leading 11 in the UEFA Europa League this season. "Falcao is Porto's most dangerous man, we'll have to keep a close eye on him," said Cazorla, a picture of calm after the intense pre-match thoughts of coach Juan Carlos Garrido that preceded him. "We can't lose the ball near to our penalty area; we have to have to keep possession – then we'll have a chance." A result at the Estádio do Dragão and Villarreal will have more than just a chance.