Villarreal joined fellow Spanish sides FC Barcelona, Valencia CF and RCD Mallorca in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup with an impressive second-leg victory against Galatasaray SK at El Madrigal on Wednesday.
After drawing 2-2 in Istanbul last week - having led 2-0 at one stage - UEFA Intertoto Cup winners Villarreal had reason to approach this return with confidence. But Fatih Terim's side started brightly and pressed Villarreal back in the early stages.
Galatasaray came closest to taking the lead midway through a tight first half when João Batista crashed a shot against the post. That proved the turning point, as having escaped that scare, the home side began to put pressure on Faryd Mondragón in the visiting goal.
A free-flowing first-half ended with chances at both ends, before Villarreal forced the breakthrough three minutes after the restart, their first-leg goalscorers combining to set them on the road to victory. Juan Riquelme was the provider, slipping a delicate through ball in to the feet of Sonny Anderson, who cracked a powerful shot beyond Mondragón.
Roger stuns Mondragón
Galatasaray, who came into the competition after being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League group stage, had still not recovered from that blow when Villarreal doubled their advantage four minutes later with a goal of real quality. Roger García saw the Galatasaray goalkeeper off his line and sent a shot beyond the sprawling Colombian from near the halfway line.
Riquelme on target
There was no way back for Galatasaray who were forced deeper into their own half as the match progressed, and it was not surprising when Riquelme rounded off the scoring for the home side with a sweet chip over the stranded Mondragón with two minutes left to play.
Having started their European campaign in the Intertoto Cup, Villarreal have already proved their resilience, and indeed are the only one of the three winners of that competition in the hat for Thursday's fourth-round draw. And after this performance, they will believe they can go a lot further still in this their debut season in the tournament.
For now Francisco García, who took up the reins as Villarreal coach from Benito Floro following his surprise resignation days before the first leg, was happy simply to reflect on a match when everything went right for his side. "
Our forwards were exceptional," he said. "It was a good victory for us and the perfect night."
'What might have been'
For Terim, it was a question of what might have been as he reflected on how close João Batista had come in the first half. "The situation might have been totally different if we had not hit the post," he said.